In a photo released by Nournews, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, right, greets Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, as Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed looks on. al-Aiban, during a ceremony for the signing of an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions, in Beijing, China, Friday, March 10, 2023. (Nournews via AP)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed Friday to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tension. The diplomatic breakthrough negotiated with China reduces the chances of armed conflict between the Middle Eastern rivals, both directly and through proxy conflicts in the region.
The agreement, reached in Beijing this week during its ceremonial National People’s Congress, represents a major diplomatic achievement for the Chinese as the Persian Gulf states sense the United States is slowly withdrawing from the Middle East. It also comes as diplomats have been trying to end a long-running war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are firmly entrenched.
The two countries released a joint statement on the deal with China, which brokered the pact when President Xi Jinping was given a third five-year term at the helm of the country on Friday.
Xi, whose government in recent days has resumed a campaign to challenge the US-led liberal Western order with warnings of “conflict and confrontation”, was credited in a trilateral statement for facilitating the talks through a “noble initiative” and agreeing to personally push the negotiations that lasted from Monday to Friday.
Videos published in Iranian state media showed Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban and Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat.
The joint statement calls for the reestablishment of ties and the reopening of embassies to occur “within a maximum period of two months.” Their foreign ministers are also scheduled to meet.
In the video, Wang could be heard offering “wholehearted congratulations” on the “wisdom” of the two countries.
“Both sides have shown sincerity,” he said. “China fully supports this deal.”
The United Nations welcomed the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran and thanked China for its participation. “Good neighborly relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are essential for the stability of the Gulf region,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarri said at the agency’s headquarters.
China, which last month hosted Iran’s president, the hardline Ebrahim Raisi, is also one of the main buyers of Saudi oil. Xi visited Riyadh in December to meet oil-rich nations of the Persian Gulf, crucial for China’s energy supplies.
According to Iran’s state news agency IRNA, Shamkhani said the talks were “clear, transparent, extensive and constructive.”
“Eliminating the misunderstandings and forward-looking views in the relations between Tehran and Riyadh will definitely lead to improving stability and security in the region, as well as increasing cooperation between the Persian Gulf nations and the Islamic world to handle the current challenges,” Shamkhani said.
FILE – In this photo released by the official website of the Iranian presidential office, President Ebrahim Raisi, left, greets his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at an official welcoming ceremony in Beijing, Tuesday, February 14, 2023. (Iranian presidential office via AP, file)
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