Saudi Arabia, Iran agree to reopen embassies during Beijing meeting

Beijing, Apr 6 (EFE).- Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to proceed with reopening embassies and consulates in their respective capitals and re-establish security cooperation, amid talks between the countries’ top diplomats in Beijing on Thursday.

The meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Faisal bin Farhan and Iran’s Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was the first to be held between the foreign ministers of the two regional rivals in seven years.

In a China-brokered rapprochement, the two Gulf countries agreed in March to restore ties and reopen diplomatic missions.

“The two sides agreed to reopen their diplomatic missions during the agreed period,” a joint statement said according to local media, without specifying a date.

Bin Farhan and Abdollahian also agreed to “continue coordination between the technical teams on both sides to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries, including the resumption of flights, mutual visits by official delegations and the private sector, and facilitating the granting of visas to citizens of the two countries.”

The ties between Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia were marred by years of a rift that sparked tensions in the region.

The Chinese official CCTV network released an image Thursday of a three-person handshake by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and China’s top diplomat Qin Qang, with the flags of their respective countries in the backdrop.

The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed the meeting on its Twitter account, posting photographs of the two leaders seated in wide armchairs, chatting and smiling.

The Iranian Press TV said the two sides stressed the importance of the official restoration of ties and discussed steps to reopen embassies in Tehran and Riyadh and missions in the Iranian city of Mashhad and the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat said the meeting in Beijing was part of the China-mediated agreement reached last month.

Riyadh broke ties with Tehran in 2016 after protesters stormed its diplomatic headquarters in Iran following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a popular Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

In April 2021, secret talks between Tehran and Riyadh began in Baghdad, which was later made public.

Last year, Iran sent three diplomats to Saudi Arabia for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in a move that saw Tehran officials set foot in the country for the first time since bilateral ties were severed.

The regional rivals have jostled for supremacy in the Middle East for years and have long been on opposing sides of geo-political issues in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of promoting terrorism in the region by backing Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah militias in Lebanon.

Most recently, Iran accused Riyadh of fomenting the unrest that sparked nationwide protests in the Persian country following the death in police custody of a young Kurdish woman in September. EFE


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