Iran has announced plans to sign a final deal with Saudi Arabia on the gold, copper and silver mines that have long dominated the country’s economy, in an apparent signal of how hard the two sides are trying to strike a deal that can revive the country.
The two countries have had a fraught relationship since the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted Iran’s revered Shah.
Iran has accused Riyadh of being behind the deadly Saudi-led war in Yemen that has killed tens of thousands of people, and accused Riyadh and Washington of supporting Iran’s rival Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group.
Iran says it is defending the country from Saudi Arabia’s Shia rebels.
In recent years, Iran and Saudi Arabia have worked on a new deal that would see a deal in place by the end of the year, with both sides set to sign the deal this week.
The final deal could see Iran receiving $1 trillion in relief from sanctions as well as $15 billion from the International Monetary Fund.
Saudi Arabia would be paid a total of $12 billion for the mines, including the $8 billion they received last year from Iran.
Both countries have expressed concerns about the potential for corruption, with Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards saying in a statement that “the country is the victim of political, religious, and ideological corruption and a number of corruption cases are under investigation”.
It is unclear how much the deal would include in its terms and conditions, although the two governments have been working to come to an agreement since the early 2000s, when the two countries signed an agreement that ended the Iranian hostage crisis.
Saudi officials say they want to avoid a repeat of that episode, which saw the death of their own Saudi ambassador to the United States, and has been seen as an attempt by Iran to block a major political agreement that could have brought them closer to a nuclear deal.
But Iran has warned that a deal with Riyadh could set a precedent for future negotiations on the region’s biggest economy, and in November the two nations signed a deal on a deal to buy US uranium in return for lifting sanctions.
The talks are expected to take place in New York next week.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir is also expected to attend the talks.
Iran’s oil output is a major concern for both Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, with the country suffering a severe decline in output that has led to the closure of major oil fields and the shutdown of thousands, if not millions, of oil refineries, a crisis that has put the economy in deep crisis.
Iran blames the crisis on sanctions imposed on its oil exports after the 1979 revolution.
The kingdom has said that sanctions imposed by Riyadh over its nuclear programme have been the main cause of the oil crisis, but the UN says it has found evidence of the opposite.
In September, the kingdom agreed to lift sanctions on its exports of Iranian oil, and the UN estimated that lifting the sanctions on Iran would lead to an additional $30 billion in revenue for the country in 2020.
In November, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubairy said that the kingdom’s economic situation was now stabilising, but there were concerns about its oil production, the main source of revenue for Saudi Arabia.