Sajad Jiyad, a Baghdad-based fellow at the Century Foundation, an independent research group.

Eventually, the two sides could discuss restoring diplomatic relations, which ended in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and Iranians protesting the execution of stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

Yasmine Farouk, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who studies Saudi Arabia, said she expected the first priority to be reaching some sort of regional security arrangement like the two countries had in the past.

“They would have to do that before they could get to the point of talking about dividing up their influence around the region,” she said.

The mere decision to talk directly with Iran signaled a change in Saudi policy, she said, given that the Saudis had previously refused to discuss Yemen with Iran since they saw Iran’s involvement there as illegitimate.

“Now they are becoming more realist and mature and they feel that talking with the Iranians will be more beneficial than just saying they need to leave Yemen,” she said.

Prince Mohammed adopted a hard line on Iran after his father, King Salman, ascended the Saudi throne in 2015 and delegated tremendous power to his favorite son.

“We are a primary target for the Iranian regime,” Prince Mohammed said in a television interview in 2017, arguing that Iran’s revolutionary ideology made negotiating with its leaders impossible. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran.”

His tone was markedly different this past week. Even though he did not acknowledge the talks with Iran, he described it as “a neighboring country” that Saudi Arabia wanted “to prosper and grow.”

“We have Saudi interests in Iran, and they have Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia, which are to drive prosperity and growth in the region and the entire world,” he said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on Saudi state television.

Ben Hubbard reported from Beirut, Lebanon; Farnaz Fassihi from New York; and Jane Arraf from Amman, Jordan. Falih Hassan contributed reporting from Baghdad.

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