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Are Iran, Saudi Arabia about to reconcile?

News has surfaced of Saudi King Salman having sent condolences after the death of former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as Kuwait’s foreign minister visits Tehran to reportedly deliver a message from the Gulf Cooperation Council.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia (front L) is pictured with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (front R) during a family photo session at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Istanbul Summit in Istanbul, Turkey April 14, 2016. Picture taken April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Onur Coban/Pool - RTX2A4TB
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When former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died Jan. 8, much was made of the absence of a message of condolence from Saudi Arabia. This was especially stark since Rafsanjani personally enjoyed good relations with many Arab leaders and had played a key role in the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement in the years after the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Indeed, rulers in Arab states such as Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman all sent messages of condolence upon the death of a man described as a “pillar” of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On Jan. 24, Entekhab News reported that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud had indeed expressed his sympathy over the demise of Rafsanjani — in a letter addressed only to his family. In the message, which was reportedly relayed to the Iranian mission at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Jan. 12, Salman described Rafsanjani as “honorable” and wished for God to grant “patience” to the family of the late ayatollah.

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