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Saudi Arabia and Iran to open embassies as regional heavyweights prepare for grand revival of ties

Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers flanked by Chinese foreign minister in Beijing (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Kanthan2030)

Jeddah:  Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian met in Beijing to discuss the next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

This was the first formal meeting of the countries’ most senior diplomats in more than seven years.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the foreign ministers “emphasized the importance of following up on the implementation of the Beijing Agreement and its activation in a way that enhances mutual trust, expands the fields of cooperation and helps create security, stability and prosperity in the region,” SPA reported.

The Kingdom and Iran have also agreed to reopen their diplomatic missions within 60 days of resuming ties, and will proceed with the necessary measures to ensure that happens in Riyadh and Tehran, as well as in Jeddah and Mashaad, where their general consulates were previously stationed, according to SPA.

The ministers also affirmed that the technical teams on both sides will discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries, including the resumption of flights, opening of embassies and consulates and mutual visits by official delegations and private sector members.

They will also work on facilitating visas for the citizens of both countries, including for Umrah.

“The two sides expressed their aspiration to intensify consultative meetings and discuss ways of cooperation to achieve more positive prospects for relations, given the natural resources and economic potential that the two countries possess, and great opportunities to achieve mutual benefits,” the joint statement added.

“The two sides also agreed to enhance their cooperation in every field that would help achieve security and stability in the region and serve the interests of its countries and people.”

The ministers also “expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Chinese side for hosting this meeting.”

Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in 2016 after its diplomatic missions in Iran were stormed by protestors.

At the time, the Kingdom asked Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 48 hours while it evacuated its embassy staff from Tehran.

In a related development, Iran also appointed an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, another key gulf nation.

The UAE, which has business and trade ties with Iran stretching back more than a century, downgraded relations with Iran following Saudi Arabia severing its ties with Iran following the storming of the Saudi embassy in Iran.

In a step change to years of hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East.

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