Tuesday, June 06, 2023
Web Desk

'New era': Iran reopens embassy in Saudi Arabia after seven years

Web Desk
People stand outside the Iranian embassy in Riyadh. — Reuters/File
People stand outside the Iranian embassy in Riyadh. — Reuters/File 

A recent historic China-brokered agreement between the two arch-rivals in the Middle East is bearing fruit as Iran has reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh after a span of around seven years, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.

In March 2023, the two nations under the umbrella of Beijing agreed to restart their respective embassies and work towards resuming ties, after Riyadh, in 2016 broke off relations following Iranian protests.

Addressing a flag-raising ceremony, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Alireza Bigdeli said, “We consider today an important day in the relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

He added: "The cooperation between the countries is entering a new era."

According to AFP, the Iranian mission resumes in its former premises in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter — near Syria’s embassy, which is also expected to reopen soon following Saudi outreach to Damascus.

Riyadh, however, has yet to confirm when it will open its embassy in Tehran or its pick for ambassador, although a Saudi delegation visited the Iranian capital in April.

Tuesday's reopening coincides with a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Saudi Arabia, which comes as the oil-rich kingdom has been forging closer relations with Washington’s rivals.

The ceremony at the embassy was also attended by Ali Al Youssef, director of consular affairs at the Saudi foreign ministry.

The mission returns under the leadership of Alireza Enayati, Iran's former ambassador to Kuwait.

After years of discord, the two Middle East heavyweights signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in China on March 10.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has restored ties with Tehran ally Syria and ramped up a push for peace in Yemen, where it has for years led a military coalition against the Iran-backed Huthi forces.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in conflict zones across the Middle East for years.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to meet the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah during his visit, according to a US official.

The top US diplomat is also due to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday.

— Additional input from AFP.