BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia and Iran said on Sunday that an escalating dispute between the two countries would not affect international efforts to end the war in Syria, even as a large Syrian rebel group cast doubt on the United Nations-led peace process.
The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said in a statement after meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran that Iran had assured him that the row would not upset talks set for later this month.
De Mistura is shuttling around the region to shore up support for the negotiations, which are due to start in Geneva on Jan. 25. They are part of a plan endorsed by the Security Council last month to end the five-year-war that has killed 250,000 people and created millions of refugees.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, attending an Arab League meeting on Sunday to discuss the spat between the two Gulf rivals, also said he did not expect the diplomatic row to affect peace efforts.
Tensions between the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Muslim Iran have escalated since Saudi authorities executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2, triggering outrage among Shi'ites across the Middle East. Iran backs the