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Top Saudi, Iranian diplomats to meet in China – official, media

2023-04-05T06:01:17Z

The top envoys for Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet in Beijing on Thursday, an Iranian official and a Saudi-owned newspaper said, as the two regional rivals work to hash out next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement amid a China-brokered deal.

The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, will be the first formal meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s most senior diplomats in more than seven years.

After years of hostility that had fuelled conflicts across the Middle East, Tehran and Riyadh agreed to end their diplomatic rift and re-open embassies in a major deal facilitated by China last month.

“The top envoys agreed to meet on Apr. 6 in Beijing as the deal was facilitated by China,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Choosing China “came as an extension of Beijing’s positive role in reaching the agreement and facilitating communication between the two countries,” Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awasat newspaper cited an unidentified source in Riyadh as saying.

The resumption of the relations that was announced last month and arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors will be discussed in the meeting, it added.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric. The kingdom subsequently asked Iranian diplomats to leave within 48 hours while it evacuated its embassy staff from Teheran.

The relationship had worsened since 2015, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war, where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement ousted a Saudi-backed government and took over the capital Sanaa.

The kingdom has blamed Iran for arming the Houthis who carried out missile and drone attacks on its cities and oil facilities. In 2019, Riyadh blamed a massive attack on Aramco oil facilities, which knocked out half of its oil output, directly on Iran.

Iran denied those allegations.

Related Galleries:

Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud attends a meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian speaks during a news conference in Tehran, Iran March 19, 2023. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS


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