Iran reaches agreement with Saudi Arabia on joint plan

Published : 06 Apr 2023 09:08 PM

Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to jointly pursue economic stability, the Iranian foreign minister said Thursday, as well as reopen missions in their respective countries as the regional rivals stepped toward reconciliation after seven years of tension.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian made the announcement in a tweet after talks with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, in Beijing. The ministers also agreed Thursday to reopen embassies in the countries’ respective capitals and representative offices in two other major cities.

The rapprochement not only lowers the chance of armed conflict between the Mideast rivals – both directly and in proxy conflicts around the region – but also represents a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider region. It comes as diplomats have been trying to end a long war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched.

Amirabdollahian’s tweet came after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said foreign ministers from both nations had signed a joint statement and expressed their determination to improve ties in line with their talks in Beijing last month.

The official Iranian news agency, IRNA, said that as part of Thursday’s agreement, the two longtime regional rivals would reopen representative offices in their respective capitals and in two other major cities — Mashhad in Iran and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

The report said both sides also agreed to study the prospects of resuming flights and official and private visits between the two nations, in addition to how to facilitate the visa process for their people.

On Thursday morning, Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV showed the Iranian and Saudi ministers shaking hands and sitting side-by-side.

It was the first formal meeting of senior diplomats from the two nations since 2016, when the kingdom broke ties with Iran after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts there. Saudi Arabia had executed a prominent Shiite cleric with 46 others days earlier, triggering the demonstrations.

The warming of ties shows that “regional countries have the will and ability to take the lead” in maintaining peace, Mao said at the briefing.

She said China is ready to support both sides in fostering good relations, urging the international community to help the Middle Eastern countries resolve their differences.

“The colonial hegemonic tactics of stirring up contradictions, creating estrangement and division should be rejected by the people all over the world,” she said.