Iran, Saudi Arabia chief diplomats meet in Beijing
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The foreign ministries of Iran and Saudi Arabia met on Thursday in the Chinese capital, Beijing, following last month’s agreement to reinstate diplomatic relations severed seven years ago.
Brokered by China, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding last month to restore ties cut in 2016, after Riyadh executed a Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr and its diplomatic missions were attacked by protestors in Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, discussed “the official resumption of bilateral relations and the executive steps towards the reopening of the embassies and consulates of the two countries,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The two diplomats discussed “implementing the agreement” that was signed to restore ties, according to a Saudi state TV channel, Al Ekhbariya.
Footages of the two diplomats shaking hands and smiling were shared on several media platforms following the meeting.
China “welcomed” the first official meeting between the two sides, hailing the Sino mediation that led to the normalization process.
The two countries also agreed to resume direct flights between the two capitals, according to a joint communique.
Per the memorandum of understanding, the two countries will reopen their diplomatic missions within two months and start implementing security and economic cooperation agreements reached in early 2000.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been invited to visit the Saudi capital by the King. He has accepted the invitation.
Hinting at Riyadh’s willingness to further normalize ties, the Saudi minister of finance said investments in Iran could follow “very quickly.”
It is not clear how Saudi Arabia, a major ally of the US, could invest in Iran while the country is under Western sanctions.
Riyadh and Tehran have been engaged in proxy wars across the Middle East, including Yemen, for decades.
Previously, Iraq and Oman had hosted several rounds of talks between the two countries.