May 29, 2023

Persian News

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Iran, Saudi FMs to meet in Beijing on Thursday: reports

TEHRAN – Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will hold their first meeting in years in Beijing on Thursday, Iranian and Saudi media reported.

Citing sources, Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Tuesday that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan will meet in Beijing on Thursday.

The officials will meet to activate the agreement reached last month in China to restore diplomatic relations, according to the Saudi paper.

The sources said Thursday’s talks have been preceded by a series of three telephone calls between the foreign ministers that tackled the future steps that will be taken between their countries in line with the landmark agreement that was brokered by China, as well as activate other deals between them.

Beijing was chosen for the meeting between the foreign ministers as an extension of its positive role in brokering the agreement and facilitating communication between the Saudi Kingdom and Iran, said the sources.

Iran and Saudi Arabia signed on March 10 a Chinese-brokered deal in Beijing to restore their relations in a period of two months.

According to the joint statement put out by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China, “The three countries announce that an agreement has been reached between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, that includes an agreement to resume diplomatic relations between them and re-open their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months, and the agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states.”

The statement added, “They also agreed that the ministers of foreign affairs of both countries shall meet to implement this, arrange for the return of their ambassadors, and discuss means of enhancing bilateral relations.”

According to the Saudi newspaper, the March 10 agreement will be implemented within 60 days.

Iranian-Saudi relations have been rapidly improving since the signing of the Chinese-brokered deal. Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber said on Monday that President Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to pay a visit to the kingdom.

“King Salman has invited the president, and there has been a positive response to this invitation, and hopefully good things will happen,” Mokhber said.

“The main strategies of Mr. Raisi since the first day he was elected as the president have been to improve relations with the countries of the region,” he added.

Iranian and Saudi officials have been in close contact to follow up on the Beijing agreement. A little more than a week after the March 10 agreement, the Saudi king sent a letter to President Raisi in which he welcomed the agreement and invited Raisi to visit Riyadh. He also called for strong economic and regional cooperation. In response, Raisi welcomed the invitation and stressed Iran’s readiness to expand cooperation.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 after its diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad were stormed by angry Iranian protestors in the wake of the Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric, along with 46 other Shia dissidents. Since April 2021, Tehran and Riyadh have been engaged in negotiations facilitated by Iraq and Oman to patch up their ties. These talks culminated in the Chinese-brokered deal.

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