Iran and Saudi Arabia announce in China the restoration of their relations

Iran and Saudi Arabia, Middle East heavyweights that severed ties in 2016, announced on Monday the restoration of diplomatic relations following talks between the two countries’ leaders in China.

“Following talks, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen (diplomatic) embassies and representations within a maximum of two months,” Irna news agency said in a joint statement issued by the two countries’ state media.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran broke off ties more than seven years ago after protesters in the Islamic republic attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

Other Gulf countries including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain had subsequently reduced their diplomatic ties with Tehran to support Riyadh.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani has been in Beijing since Monday “for intensive negotiations with his Saudi counterpart in China aimed at resolving the (latest) differences between Tehran and Riyadh,” Irna reported.

The foreign ministers of the two countries will “implement this decision and make the necessary arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors,” the statement added, without elaborating.

Iran’s diplomatic chief, g, welcomed on Twitter “the return to normal relations” between his country and Saudi Arabia.

“The return to normal relations between Tehran and Riyadh offers great opportunities for both countries, the region and the Muslim world,” he said, adding that his ministry would “actively launch other regional initiatives”.

From April 2021, Iraq hosted a series of meetings between security officials of the two rival powers to bring the two countries closer together.

“New page”

In their joint statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia “thank the Republic of Iraq and the Sultanate of Oman for hosting talks between the two sides in 2021 and 2022, as well as the leadership and government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting and supporting the talks there.”

Iraq welcomed the “new page” in the history of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh, which support rival parties in several conflicts in the region, including Yemen.

Iran has a major influence in Iraq and Lebanon and supports the regime in Syria militarily and politically.

It has strong ties with Baghdad, where the parliament is dominated by pro-Iranian parties and the government is formed from this majority.

Beijing had signed a vast 25-year strategic agreement with Tehran in 2021 in areas as varied as energy, security, infrastructure and communications.

“The three countries (Iran, Saudi Arabia, China) declare their firm commitment to make every effort to strengthen regional and international peace and security,” said the joint statement issued Friday.

In mid-February, Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi paid a three-day state visit to China, the first by an Iranian president in the country in more than 20 years.

In recent months, the Emirates and Kuwait had resumed diplomatic relations with Iran.


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