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Iran, Saudi Arabia agree to resume relations, re-open embassies

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani, Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaid Al Aiban, and the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Wang Yi attend a ceremony in Beijing on March 10, 2023 to sign a joint statement on restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement in the Chinese capital of Beijing to restore their diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions, seven years after their ties were broken off over several issues.

The agreement was struck on Friday after several days of intensive negotiations between Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and his Saudi counterpart in Beijing. It was officially announced in a joint statement by Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.

The statement was inked by Shakhani, Musaid Al Aiban, Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser, and Wang Yi, the director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party.

Shamkhani has been involved in intensive talks with his Saudi counterpart in Beijing since Monday to find a final solution to the issues between Tehran and Riyadh. The negotiations followed a meeting between Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing last month.

“As a result of the talks, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions within two months,” the joint statement said.

It added that the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will meet to “implement this decision and make the necessary arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors.”

According to the statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia highlighted the need to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another. They agreed to implement a security cooperation agreement signed in April 2001 and another accord reached in May 1998 to boost economic, commercial, investment, technical, scientific, cultural, sports and youth affairs cooperation.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and China expressed their firm determination to make their utmost efforts to promote regional and international peace and security, it emphasized.

The statement further explained that delegations from Iran and Saudi Arabia, led by Shamkhani and Aiban, held several meetings over the past five days following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s support for the expansion of ties between Tehran and Riyadh based on the principle of good neighborliness and his efforts to host meetings between Iranian and Saudi senior officials.

The talks between Shamkhani and Aiban were also held as a result of the keenness of Tehran and Riyadh to resolve differences through dialogue and diplomacy based on fraternal ties and both sides’ adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Charter and international rules and principles, it added.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

The two sides had held five rounds of negotiations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad since April 2021.

In their joint statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia also thanked Iraq and Oman for hosting the talks between the two sides in 2021 and 2022 as well as the leaders and government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting and supporting the talks held in that country.

In phone call, Shamkhani thanks Iraq for hosting talks

Prior to the official announcement about the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shamkhani held a phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.

The Iranian top security official hailed great efforts by Iraq to host five rounds of talks between Tehran and Riyadh.

He also commended Baghdad’s “very valuable” bids to prepare the ground for the new agreement between Tehran and Riyadh.

Speaking after signing the agreement, Shamkhani said the negotiations between the two countries were “frank, transparent, comprehensive.”

“Clearing up the misunderstandings and looking to the future in Tehran-Riyadh relations will definitely lead to the development of regional stability and security and the increase of cooperation between the countries of the Persian Gulf and the Islamic world to manage the existing challenges,” he said.

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