Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Iran, Saudi Arabia Hold Fifth Round Of Talks In Baghdad.

A fifth round of talks has been held between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported.

Nournews, a news website that is affiliated with Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said on Twitter on April 23 that the talks were held in Baghdad and that the "positive atmosphere...raised hopes for the two countries to take a step towards the resumption of relations."

The semiofficial Mehr news agency said high-ranking Iraqi and Omani officials played a role in bringing the sides together for the talks following a previous round in September.

Shi'ite Muslim-majority Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia have for decades competed for influence in the Middle East. A bloody conflict in Yemen has been called by many experts a "proxy war" between Tehran and Riyadh.

Riyadh severed ties with Iran in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran following the execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric in Saudi Arabia.

The two sides started direct talks last year to try to contain tensions and restore ties.

In March, Iran unilaterally suspended the talks without giving a reason, but it came a day after Saudi Arabia said it had executed 81 men in its biggest mass execution in decades.

Activists said 41 of those executed were Shi'ite Muslims from the eastern Qatif region, which has historically been a flashpoint between the Sunni-dominated government and minority Shi'a.

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