Iran and Saudi Arabia on Friday agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after years of tensions between the two countries, including a devastating attack on the heart of the kingdom’s oil production attributed to Tehran.
The deal, struck in Beijing this week amid its ceremonial National People’s Congress, represents a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider Middle East. It also comes as diplomats have been trying to end a years-long war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have held off-and-on talks in recent years, but it wasn’t immediately clear if Yemen was the impetus for this new detente.
The two countries released a joint communique on the deal with China, which brokered the agreement. Chinese state media did not immediately report the agreement but Iranian state media posted footage in which Wang Yi, Beijing’s most senior diplomat, offered “wholehearted congratulations” to the two countries for their “wisdom.”
In the footage Yi is joined by Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban.
“Removing misunderstandings and the future-oriented views in relations between Tehran and Riyadh will definitely lead to improving regional stability and security, as well as increasing cooperation among Persian Gulf nations and the world of Islam for managing current challenges,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying.
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