Iranian news outlet Nournews has indicated that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been suspended just as the two countries were due to meet in Iraq for a fifth round of negotiations.
The article posted on Nournews, which is affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council did not give reason for the postponement of discussions. For over five years both countries have been involved in negotiations to ease tensions after severing diplomatic ties in 2016.
According to the Guardian both countries have backed different sides of a long-standing regional conflict. While the BBC has suggested that religious ideologies also play a part with Iranians mostly identifying as Shia Muslims and Saudi Arabia primarily as Sunni Muslims.
Since 2016 there have been four-rounds of talks in an effort to ease tensions but it is now unknown when and if the fifth round of talks will take place.
“Although Iran has not yet announced a date for the talks with Saudi Arabia, unofficial reports indicate that the fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia had been agreed on Wednesday,” reported Nournews.
The announcement coincidentally came after the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry announced that they had carried out a mass execution earlier in the week. In total 81 people were executed including 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis and one Syrian, making it the largest known mass execution in modern times .
“These individuals totalling 81 were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” Ministry of Interior, Saudi Arabia said.
“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organization.”
It is believed by Reprieve, an anti-death penalty charity that 41 of the men executed were those of the Shia faith which is prominent in Iran. Saudi Arabia has denied any violations of human rights as those on death row were offered legal aid and their rights under Saudi laws.
The Saudi government also said that those executed were members of al-Qaida and Houthi rebels which are supported by Iran in conflict within Yemen. Both the Iranian and Saudi governments have yet to comment on the matter further.