News ID: 113216
Publish Date : 10 March 2023 - 21:41

Iran, Saudi Arabia Resume Diplomatic Ties

TEHRAN — Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in each other’s countries following China-led negotiations in Beijing, both governments announced via their respective state media agencies on Friday.
“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,” IRNA news agency reported, citing a joint statement issued by the two countries and China.
Riyadh cut ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters gathered outside Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in 2016 following the Saudi execution of the revered Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Nour News, which is linked to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, posted footage of Ali Shamkhani, the council’s secretary, with a Saudi official and China’s most senior diplomat, Wang Yi.
“After implementing the decision, the foreign ministers of both nations will meet to prepare for exchange of ambassadors,” Iranian national television said.
The agreement has potentially wide implications for the region, and shows the new determination of Saudi Arabia to conduct a foreign policy independent of the West.
Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, said: “The return of normal relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia provides great capacities to the two countries, the region and the Islamic world. The neighborhood policy, as the key axis of the government’s foreign policy, is strongly moving in the right direction, and the diplomatic apparatus is actively behind the preparation of more regional steps.”
The Saudi Press Agency confirmed the agreement, which said the two countries had agreed to respect state sovereignty and not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
The statement also said Riyadh and Tehran had agreed to activate a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001.
Talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran on a potential reconciliation have been continuing for years mainly in Iraq, so it is a surprise for the deal to be sealed in China.
Speaking in London earlier this week, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, defended Saudi Arabia’s links with China, saying: “China is our largest trading partner. It is also the largest trading partner of most countries. And that is a reality that we will have to deal with.

China, for us, is an important and valued partner in many areas. We have excellent working relationships across many sectors. But we have said and repeat this, always, we will look towards our own interests. And we will look for them in the west and in the east.”
IRNA quoted Shamkhani as calling the talks “clear, transparent, comprehensive and constructive.”
“Removing misunderstandings and the future-oriented views in relations between Tehran and Riyadh will definitely lead to improving regional stability and security, as well as increasing cooperation among Persian Gulf nations and the world of Islam for managing current challenges,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying.
In addition to resuming diplomatic relations and reopening their embassies and missions in each other’s countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to affirm “the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states.”
They also agreed that the foreign ministers of both countries would meet to implement this and improve bilateral relations, and that previous cooperation accords — namely a “Security Cooperation Agreement” from 2001 and a “General Agreement for Cooperation” from 1998 covering the fields of trade, economy, sports, technology, science, culture, sports and youth — would be upheld.
“The three countries expressed their keenness to exert all efforts towards enhancing regional and international peace and security,” the Saudi statement said.
The Saudi statement also expressed thanks to Riyadh’s neighbors Iraq and Oman, which it said had hosted “rounds of dialogue that took place between both sides during the years 2021-2022.”
Oman’s foreign ministry welcomed the Friday development on Twitter, expressing hope that it will “contribute to strengthening the pillars of security and stability in the region and consolidating positive and constructive cooperation that benefits all peoples of the region and the world,” according to a Google translation.
The breakthrough is very positive news for the region, said Anna Jacobs, senior Persian Gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group.
“It’s hugely positive news,” she said, which signals that there has been enough dialogue “to start some serious confidence building measures and agree to this roadmap to restore full diplomatic relations. The news also suggests we are likely to some positive movement on the Yemen ceasefire.”
The development “shows that Saudi-Iran dialogue has succeeded after many years, and it’s succeeded with support from regional powers like Iraq and Oman, but also global powers like China,” Jacobs told CNBC.
The agreement also illustrates that China has stepped up its role in the region in new ways, particularly in mediation, Jacobs added. “For China, this is a huge win.”
Adnan Tabatabai – CEO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, a Germany-based think tank – told Al Jazeera that China has a big interest in not seeing the regional security situation “descend into chaos”, such as “in 2019, when the waterways of Hormuz were the sites of different explosions and attacks”.
“There are inherent interests for the Chinese to try and use the leverage that they have towards both Tehran and Riyadh to make some efforts to balance these relations and finalize what the Iraqis and Omanis had in fact started,” Tabatabai said.
Referring to the U.S. playing no role in this agreement, Tabatabai said from at least the fall of 2019 onwards, there is also some disappointment and some increasing skepticism inside Saudi Arabia towards the role of the U.S. in that region.
“The security umbrella is no longer an actual idea that the U.S. was supposed to build for Saudi Arabia and its allies, so there was a need also sensed in Saudi Arabia to think in a different way about how it can secure its territory, borders and interests.”