“Iran and Saudi Arabia Take Historic Step Towards Restoring Diplomatic Ties”

Iran and Saudi Arabia Take Historic Step Towards Restoring Diplomatic Ties
Iran and Saudi Arabia Take Historic Step Towards Restoring Diplomatic Ties
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Iran and Saudi Arabia have taken a significant step towards restoring diplomatic ties after a historic meeting between the two Gulf countries’ foreign ministers in China. The two Middle East powerhouses had held several rounds of dialogue in Iraq and Oman before reaching the agreement in Beijing, negotiated over five days between Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and his Saudi counterpart Musaad bin Mohammad Al-Aiban. After the meeting, the ministers pledged to bring back security and stability to the turbulent Gulf. They also agreed to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another.

As a result of the meeting, a technical delegation from Iran is set to visit Saudi Arabia this week to make preparations for the reopening of Iran’s embassy in Riyadh following a China-brokered deal to restore relations between the two sides. The Iranian state media reported on Sunday that the technical delegation will probably “visit Tehran’s embassy in Riyadh and make arrangements for the reopening of Iran’s embassy in Saudi Arabia” on April 11. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said a day earlier that the kingdom’s officials had visited Iran to discuss procedures for reopening Riyadh’s diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic.

The rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia has the potential to reduce tensions across a region replete with chaos and calamities for decades. Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia have backed rival sides in conflict zones across the region, including in Yemen. Riyadh leads a military coalition that supports the internationally recognised government in the Arabian Peninsula country, while Tehran backs the Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and large areas of the north.

Saudi Arabia severed relations with Iran in January 2016, after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in the northwestern city of Mashhad were attacked by protesters demonstrating over Riyadh’s execution of Saudi opposition Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. However, on March 10, after several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume their diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and diplomatic missions after seven years of estrangement.

The re-establishment of formal relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia comes as a surprise to many, particularly the US and Israel, who are concerned about the potential consequences of the rapprochement. However, the two sides have emphasized the need for mutual respect and cooperation in various areas, including security, economics, culture, and youth affairs. With the reopening of diplomatic missions and ongoing dialogue, it is hoped that Iran and Saudi Arabia can resolve their differences and contribute to stability and peace in the Gulf region.

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