Saudi king invites Iranian president as ties warm
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has extended an official invitation to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to visit the monarchy as ties between Tehran and Riyadh warm, following a normalization deal, according to an official.
The Iranian president has “welcomed” the invitation by the king, Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president's deputy chief of staff for political affairs, tweeted on Sunday.
It is not yet clear when the visit will take place.
The invitation comes as Tehran and Riyadh, through Chinese mediation, agreed to reopen diplomatic missions in their respective countries on March 10, after the ties were severed seven years ago, as a result of the storming of the kingdom’s embassy and consulate in Iran by protestors over the execution of the Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr in 2016.
Per the new deal, which has been widely welcomed by many countries, including the EU, the two countries will reopen embassies within two months as well as implement a security and economic agreement they reached in the early 2000s.
Considered historical rivals as the two regional heavyweights, Iran and Saudi Arabia have engaged in proxy wars in numerous Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.
The rapprochement also comes as Iran is increasingly coming under Western pressure over its nuclear program, the talks on which have been stalled.
Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which closed down their embassies in Tehran in 2016 in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, reopened the missions this year.