In line with the bilateral policy of restoration of relations, Foreign Ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in China’s capital city of Beijing and held talks for more cooperation.
According to Saudi Arabia’s state media report on Thursday, foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabi, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met in Beijing to further extend ways of bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run broadcaster Al Ekhbariya released brief footage of the meeting on Twitter Thursday showing the two ministers shaking hands and smiling in a room with the flags of their respective countries. They then walked together into a meeting room where they sat down in wide armchairs and talked to each other.
It was in early march that Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months. “After implementing of the decision, the foreign ministers of the both nations will meet to prepare for exchange of ambassadors,” Iranian state television said back then.
China, the new mediator in the Middle East
The deal, struck in Beijing, was a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider Middle East. Experts believe that the agreement could also put a damper on Israel’s ongoing work to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors, and complicate U.S. and other Western powers’ bid to contain Iran’s nuclear program.
China, which recently hosted Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, is also a top purchaser of Saudi oil. President Xi Jinping, who was awarded a third five-year term as president early in March, visited Riyadh in December to attend meetings with oil-rich Gulf Arab nations crucial to China’s energy supplies.
Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement also comes as diplomats have been trying to end a years-long war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched. It was back in 2015 that a Saudi-led coalition armed with U.S. weaponry entered the war on the side of Yemen’s exiled government and against Houthis, allegedly supported by Iran. Back in January, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that progress was being made towards ending the Yemen war.
Tehran and Riyadh both hailed the new rapprochement
Calling the last rounds of talks in China as ‘clear, transparent, comprehensive and constructive’, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, was quoted by Iran’s state media that “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”.
Saudi officials also echoed the same view following the historical agreement in March, with the Saudi’s King Salman even inviting Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi to visit the Kingdom. “In a letter to President Raisi… the King of Saudi Arabia welcomed the deal between the two brotherly countries (and) invited him to Riyadh,” tweeted Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, adding that “Raisi welcomed the invitation”.