Iran, Saudi Arabia take significant steps to reconcile


Iran and Saudi Arabia have taken a significant step towards reconciliation as the top diplomat of Riyadh made a historic visit to the Islamic republic, marking the end of a seven-year rupture between the two nations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan engaged in talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, with a focus on regional security. Following their meeting, bin Farhan also had an audience with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and planned to extend an invitation for Raisi to visit the kingdom in the near future.

The misunderstanding between Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia and Shiite-led Iran occurred in 2016 when Saudi Arabia severed relations after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad were attacked during protests against the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Riyadh.

However, in March, the two countries agreed to mend ties and reopen their embassies, thanks to a deal brokered by China, which has led to a shift in regional relations.

On June 6, Iran reopened its embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia, and it is expected that the Saudi diplomatic mission in Tehran will also be reopened soon.

During a joint news conference with Amir-Abdollahian, Prince Faisal emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries, particularly in regional security, including maritime navigation and waterways.

Amir-Abdollahian mentioned that they discussed strengthening cooperation in areas such as security, economy, tourism, and transportation.

He stressed Iran’s belief that regional security can only be ensured by regional actors without external interference, highlighting the foundation of mutual respect, independence, sovereignty, and non-interference in internal affairs in their relations.

The meeting between Prince Faisal and President Raisi involved a review of bilateral relations and discussions on enhancing and developing them across various fields, as stated by the Saudi foreign ministry.

This visit by Prince Faisal marks the first time a Saudi foreign minister has visited Iran since 2006 when the late Saudi diplomat Prince Saudi al-Faisal made a trip to Tehran.

Since the restoration of ties, Saudi Arabia has been actively pursuing a peace deal with Iran-backed Huthi rebels and has supported Syria, a key ally of Iran, in its return to the Arab fold.

The meeting between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers is not their first encounter.

They previously met in Beijing in April, where they pledged to promote regional security and stability.

A Saudi delegation also visited Iran in April to discuss the reopening of their diplomatic missions.

While Iran has reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia, the reopening of the Saudi embassy in Tehran has been delayed due to the poor condition of the building, which was damaged during the 2016 protests.

Saudi diplomats will temporarily operate from a luxury hotel in Tehran until the building is restored, according to media reports.

The reports added that “Following the landmark deal with Saudi Arabia, Iran has been actively solidifying or reestablishing relations with neighboring Arab countries.”

In April, Iran appointed an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, ending an eight-year absence after the previous ambassador departed. Last September, Iran welcomed an Emirati ambassador after a six-year break caused by the UAE reducing its diplomatic representation in 2016.

Iran has also expressed its willingness to restore diplomatic ties with Bahrain, ending a seven-year rupture. Additionally, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated in late May that he would welcome a resumption of relations with Egypt, which have been severed since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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