Saudi Arabia, Iran to reopen embassies, resume flights, FMs say in Beijing

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian met in Beijing for the first time to discuss the next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the foreign ministers “emphasized the importance of following up on the implementation of the Beijing Agreement and its activation in a way that enhances mutual trust, expands the fields of cooperation and helps create security, stability and prosperity in the region,” SPA reported.

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The Kingdom and Iran have also agreed to reopen their diplomatic missions within 60 days of resuming ties, and will proceed with the necessary measures to ensure that happens in Riyadh and Tehran, as well as in Jeddah and Mashaad, where their general consulates were previously stationed, according to SPA.

The ministers also affirmed that the technical teams on both sides will discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries, including the resumption of flights and mutual visits by official delegations and private sector members.

They will also work on facilitating visas to the citizens of both countries, including for Umrah.

“The two sides expressed their aspiration to intensify consultative meetings and discuss ways of cooperation to achieve more positive prospects for relations, given the natural resources and economic potential that the two countries possess, and great opportunities to achieve mutual benefits,” the joint statement added.

“The two sides also agreed to enhance their cooperation in every field that would help achieve security and stability in the region and serve the interests of its countries and people.”

The ministers also “expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Chinese side for hosting this meeting.”

China-brokered rapprochement

The meeting marked the first formal contact between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s top envoys since 2016.

The talks came after three separate phone calls between the two foreign ministers, in which they discussed the subsequent steps needed to resume their diplomatic missions and reactivate previous agreements, according to sources.

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

Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China on March 10 announced that they would resume diplomatic relations within 60 days, saying in a statement that all joint agreements between the two countries, including the security cooperation agreement, and deals on economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports, and youth would be reactivated.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries.

At the time, the Kingdom asked Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 48 hours while it evacuated its embassy staff from Tehran.

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