DUBAI: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian have agreed to meet soon and pave the way for the reopening of embassies under a deal to re-establish ties, Saudi state news agency SPA said on Thursday.
Earlier this month, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to revive relations after years of hostility that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria.
The ministers spoke by phone to mark the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, SPA said.
Amirabdollahian emphasised during the call Iran’s readiness to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported.
The foreign ministers of the two countries agreed to meet each other as soon as possible and start preparations for the reopening of embassies and consulates, IRNA added.
The deal between the two regional rivals, brokered by China, was announced after previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two countries.
Analysts say both sides stand to benefit from de-escalation, as Iran seeks to undercut US efforts to isolate it in the region and Saudi Arabia tries to focus on economic development. Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh’s execution of a Shia cleric.
The kingdom also has blamed Iran for missile and drone attacks on its oil facilities in 2019 as well as attacks on tankers in Gulf waters. Iran denied those allegations.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has also carried out cross-border missile and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition fighting the Houthis, and in 2022 extended the strikes to the United Arab Emirates.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023
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