May 31, 2023

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Iran, Saudi to reopen embassies before May 9: diplomat

TEHRAN – A senior Iranian diplomat has said that Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen their embassies before the end of the two-month period agreed upon in their recent agreement, which was brokered by China. 

Alireza Enayati, the head of the Persian Gulf Bureau at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, has said that according to the deal reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia in China, the embassies of the two countries will be reopened before May 9. The deal also stipulated that the foreign ministers of the two countries would hold a meeting for the first time in years.

“This issue took place within a month, and the foreign ministries of the two countries met in Beijing, and from that date, the official declaration of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia began, and after that, the technical delegations met each other,” Enayati said in an interview with Iran’s official news agency IRNA published on Monday. 

He added, “We were and are hosting the Saudi delegation, this delegation visited their embassy in Tehran, and they left for Mashhad on Friday and visited their consulate general in this city. According to what we know, they will return to Riyadh and subsequently another delegation from Saudi Arabia will leave for Iran to discuss how to reopen the Saudi embassy and consulate general. The same has been done on the Iranian side. On the Wednesday of last week, two delegations from the Islamic Republic of Iran left for Saudi Arabia. The head of our delegation, Mr. Zarnagar, met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia for protocol affairs, which was a very good and constructive meeting, and good implementation agreements were made in that meeting. Accordingly, we have started our activity in Saudi Arabia at the embassy and consulate general to repair and prepare for reopening.”

Enayati said, “Currently, the resumption of relations has been announced and we are looking for the start of the embassy activities and we hope to be able to reopen the embassy and consulate general of Iran in the predicted time, before May 9, which was the time limit of two months that has been taken into consideration. Of course, due to the fact that it coincides with the Hajj days and the beginning of the Hajj days, our effort is to do the work before that time because the activities of the consulate general and the Iranian embassy will definitely be useful to facilitate the affairs of the pilgrims.”

He also pointed out that a new meeting of foreign ministers is on the agenda of Iran and Saudi Arabia, and “we hope that these meetings will take place in the near future.”

Responding to a question on whether Iran and Saudi Arabia have nominated ambassadors, Enayati said, “This issue is a fundamental issue, in the sense that when the agreement was reached, the agreement on the departure of the ambassadors of the two countries to each other’s capitals was emphasized by the parties, and this will definitely be done, but this issue needs to go through processes in an executive form. This work is on the agenda of two countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

According to Enayati, Tehran and Riyadh have yet to name ambassadors. 

Commenting on the launch of direct flights to and from Tehran and Riyadh, Enayati said, “We have an air transport agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is in force, and it was based on this agreement that flights between Iran and Saudi Arabia took place between Jeddah, Tehran, and Mashhad. In these talks, that agreement was emphasized, and due to the implementation of that agreement, the technical teams from the aviation organizations of both Iran and Saudi Arabia will sit together and discuss the establishment of these flights. What I imagine in terms of time conditions may be that the start of flights may be postponed until after the days of Hajj and the reduction of Hajj traffic.”

As regards the potential exchange of visits between Iran and Saudi Arabia by their foreign ministers, the official noted, “The exact time has not been determined yet. Also, no agreement has yet been reached on which of the foreign ministries of the two countries will visit the other country first, but it seems that this action is on the agenda of both Iran and Saudi Arabia and will be done in the near future.”

Regarding the travel plan of the Iranian Minister of Economy and Finance or at a higher level to Saudi Arabia, Enayati said, “In the joint statement issued between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the exchange of meetings between government officials and the private sector is emphasized, and that the government sector will include all ministers and government organizations. and this action will take place in the framework of the activation of relations.”

He continued, “When we talk about the resumption of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it should be translated into reality, and it is by making such trips that the relationship is realized and turns from a nominal state to a real state, so we encourage such meetings in the public and private sector. And we welcome the visit of Saudi Arabian officials in both public and private sectors.”

The diplomat stated, “The visit of the Minister of Economy and Finance takes place within the framework of the Islamic Development Bank and is a regional summit, and there may be an opportunity to have a bilateral meeting or bilateral meetings with the Saudi parties.”

He went on to say that the Iran-Saudi agreement can foster endogenous security in the region and has a positive impact on the security of the region’s countries. 

“We were faced with a phenomenon in the past and maybe this was done by foreigners or forces that look at the region from outside the region and maybe try to polarize the region between the north of the Persian Gulf and the south of the Persian Gulf. I believe that with the cooperation of Iran and Saudi Arabia, we will get out of these two polarizations, which may include a kind of non-constructive competition, and move towards cooperation between the two countries,” the veteran diplomat remarked.


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