Top Saudi, Iranian diplomats meet in China, 1st time in 7 years

ISTANBUL (AA) – Top diplomats of Saudi Arabia and Iran met in China on Thursday, their first meeting in over seven years, said an official statement.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in the capital Beijing on Thursday, a joint statement released by the two sides said.

A joint readout released by Tehran referred to last month’s Chinese-brokered deal between the two sides, saying: “The two sides emphasized the importance of following up on the implementation of the Beijing Agreement and its activation in a way that expands mutual trust and the fields of cooperation and helps to create security, stability and prosperity in the region.”

They agreed to expand cooperation “in any field that can ensure the security and stability of the region and realize the interests of its nations and countries,” the statement said.

Beijing last month hosted officials from longtime regional rivals Riyadh and Tehran, where they agreed to resume to diplomatic relations.

The trilateral joint statement by China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia released at the time said the top diplomats will work out the modalities of reopening diplomatic missions by May 10 – within two months.

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was stormed by an angry mob following the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric.

Starting in April 2021, the two sides took part in marathon talks facilitated by Iraq and Oman, but it was Chinese intervention that resulted in a breakthrough last month.

The joint statement said the two sides “agreed to reopen the embassies within the agreed time” and “take necessary measures to open consulates in Jeddah and Mashhad.”

Riyadh and Tehran also “agreed to continue the necessary coordination between technical delegations to examine resumption of flights and mutual trips of the official delegations and the private sector, facilitating granting of visas for the citizens of the two countries, including Umrah (pilgrimage) visas.”

The Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers also held meetings with their Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, who they thanked for Beijing’s mediation.

“Considering the natural resources and economic capabilities and the many opportunities that exist to realize the common interests of the two brotherly nations, the two sides are increasing consultative meetings and discussions on ways of cooperation to realize as many positive prospects in relations as possible,” the joint statement added.

The top diplomats also “emphasized their readiness to eliminate all the obstacles facing the expansion of cooperation between the two countries.”

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

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