King Fahd held out an olive branch to Iran on Tuesday, 5 1/2 months after severing relations with Tehran, saying he regrets that the Iranians did not attend a meeting of Islamic information ministers.
“I would have wished the Iranian delegation to be with us,” he told 45 ministers when the session opened in this Red Sea city.
“Iran is an Islamic country, and deep in my heart I would have loved to see my Iranian brothers here today,” the monarch said in his speech.
Fahd’s signal was the clearest in a series of recent Saudi gestures toward Iran.
The king’s moves came amid efforts by Tehran to improve its relations with its Arab neighbors and Western nations after the Aug. 20 U.N.-sponsored cease-fire in its eight-year war with Iraq.
The Saudis broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran last April 26 after accusing the Tehran regime of carrying out sabotage, subversion and terrorism against Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states.
Fahd sent similar signals to Tehran when he received leaders of Muslim delegations who called on him in the holy city of Mecca in late July at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Islamic shrines in Saudi Arabia.
Iranian pilgrims boycotted the pilgrimage this year because of the rift between the two Muslim nations.
The king’s remarks came a week after the Saudi government executed four saboteurs it said were working on Iran’s behalf.
The Iranians have condemned the executions and accused Saudi Arabia and other gulf Arab states of producing more oil than the quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to drive down oil prices to weaken Tehran.