The recent visit by Saudi officials to Iran has resulted in an official invitation from Tehran to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, according to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani. During a televised news conference, Kanaani stated that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had sent the invitation in exchange for a previous invitation from Riyadh.
This development comes after Saudi officials visited Iran earlier this month to discuss the reopening of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad. The discussions were a result of a deal brokered by Chinese President Xi Jinping in March aimed at restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been strained for seven years.
Tensions between the two countries have fuelled conflicts, both direct and indirect, across the Middle East. The rift dates back to 2016 when Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute over the execution of Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones across the Middle East, including Yemen where the Houthi rebels are backed by Tehran, while Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government.
However, following talks, both countries have agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies and missions within two months, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA, citing a joint statement. Technical delegations from both countries are preparing to officially reopen their missions, with Tehran stating that activities would restart by May 9.
The agreement to end the conflict was brokered by China, effectively sidelining the United States and aiming to ease tensions in the Middle East. The move is expected to have significant implications for regional stability and could lead to increased cooperation between the two countries.