The foreign ministers of long-time Middle Eastern rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have met in Beijing, taking another step toward reconciliation after seven years of tensions
BEIJING — The foreign ministers of long-time Middle Eastern rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran met in Beijing on Thursday, taking another step toward reconciliation after seven years of tension.
The meeting came a month after the two countries agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies by May.
The deal was brokered by Beijing. It 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 long war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched.
The rapprochement lowers the chance of armed conflict between the Mideast rivals – both directly and in proxy conflicts around the region
On Thursday morning, Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV showed Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian shaking hands and sitting side by side. Iran’s state TV said the two ministers met to discuss the details of reopening embassies.
It was the first formal meeting of senior diplomats from the two nations since 2016, when the kingdom broke ties with Iran after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts there. Saudi Arabia had executed a prominent Shiite cleric with 46 others days earlier, triggering the demonstrations.
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