Iran condemned Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of convicted criminals on Saturday and ended talks aimed at easing tensions between the rivals, according to a website connected to Iran’s top security body.
“Iran has unilaterally suspended talks with Saudi Arabia,” Nor News reported, according to Reuters.
The news comes ahead of a fifth round of talks between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran set to begin this week. While a reason for the decision remains unclear, activists have said that 41 of the executed people were Shi’ite Muslims.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia conducted a mass execution of 81 people who were reportedly convicted of terrorism and capital crimes, including the murder of innocent men, women and children, according to the Saudi Ministry of Interior.
It was reportedly the largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia’s modern history.
SPA, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency, said the individuals who were executed were provided with their rights as guaranteed under Saudi law, including the right to an attorneys.
However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the executions a “violation of basic human rights principles and international law.” Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah also said it called the executions an “ugly crime,” Reuters noted.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have long opposed one another in conflicts and disputes involving Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
Meanwhile, talks in Vienna regarding reviving the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal have also been paused and could collapse as a result of last minute demands from Russia.