Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed Friday to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions between the Mideast rivals. The major diplomatic breakthrough negotiated with China lowers the chance of armed conflict between the nations — both directly and in proxy conflicts around the region.
The deal, struck in Beijing this week amid its ceremonial National People’s Congress, represents a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider Middle East. It also comes as diplomats have been trying to end a yearslong war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched.
The two countries released a joint communique on the deal with China, which brokered the agreement. Chinese state media did not immediately report the agreement.
Iranian state media posted images and video it described as being taken in China of the meeting. It showed Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban and Wang Yi, China’s most senior diplomat.
“After implementing of the decision, the foreign ministers of the both nations will meet to prepare for exchange of ambassadors,” Iranian state television said. It added that the talks had been held over four days.
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The joint statement calls for the reestablishing of ties and the reopening of embassies to happen “within a maximum period of two months.”
In the footage aired by Iranian media, Wang could be heard offering “whole-hearted congratulations” on the two countries’ “wisdom.”
“Both sides have displayed sincerity,” he said. “China fully supports this agreement.”
China, which recently hosted Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, is also a top purchaser of Saudi oil. President Xi Jinping, just awarded a third five-year term as president earlier on Friday, visited Riyadh in December to attend meetings with oil-rich Gulf Arab nations crucial to China’s energy supplies.
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