Saudi Arabia and Iran on a world map
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran and Saudi Arabia, longtime regional foes, have agreed to resume diplomatic ties and reopen embassies in each other’s countries following China-led negotiations in Beijing, the two governments announced via their respective national news agencies.
“Following the talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies… within two months,” Iranian news agency IRNA said. reported Friday.
The Saudi state news agency confirmed the announcement. in his own statement.
The Saudi statement profusely thanked Beijing for its leadership in the talks.
“In response to the noble initiative of His Excellency President Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, of China’s support for the development of good-neighborly relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. .. The delegations of the two countries held talks from March 6 to 10, 2023 in Beijing,” the APS statement said.
He highlighted the Chinese leader’s role in hosting and sponsoring talks between the Saudi Kingdom and Iran, a process that Riyadh described as “stemming from their common desire to resolve disagreements between them through dialogue and diplomacy, and in the light of their fraternal ties”.
For China, this is a huge victory.
Senior Gulf Analyst, International Crisis Group
In addition to resuming diplomatic relations and reopening their embassies and missions in each other’s countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to affirm “respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of States”.
They also agreed that the foreign ministers of the two countries would meet to implement this agreement and improve bilateral relations, and that previous cooperation agreements – namely a “security cooperation agreement” of 2001 and a 1998 “general cooperation agreement” covering the areas of trade, economy, sport, technology, science, culture, sport and youth — would be revived.
“The three countries expressed their willingness to make all necessary efforts to strengthen regional and international peace and security,” the Saudi statement said.
The Saudi statement also thanked Riyadh’s neighbors Iraq and Oman, which it said hosted “rounds of dialogue that took place between the two sides during the years 2021-2022.”
Oman’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Friday’s development on Twitterexpressing the hope that he “will contribute to strengthening the pillars of security and stability in the region and consolidating positive and constructive cooperation that benefits all the peoples of the region and the world”, according to a Google translation .
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) is greeted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (R) at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 8, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Iran and Saudi Arabia have long accused each other of destabilizing the region and see themselves as serious security threats, often on opposite sides of regional conflicts such as those in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. Riyadh and Washington both accuse Tehran of being behind several attacks on Saudi ships, territories and energy infrastructure in recent years.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016, after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran in response to Saudi authorities’ execution of 47 dissidents, including a prominent Shia cleric.
The White House supports “the effort to de-escalate tensions”
The Saudis have kept Washington informed of the deal, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNBC in a press call.
“We support any effort to defuse tensions in the region. We believe it is in our interest and it is something we have worked on through our own effective combination of deterrence and diplomacy,” Kirby said. , adding that “it really remains to be seen whether Iran will fulfill its obligations.”
The US position is to see an end to the war in Yemen, he said, which is more likely to happen in light of Friday’s agreement.
Meanwhile, he appeared to downplay China’s role in the deal. “It’s not about China and I’m not going to characterize here whatever China’s role is,” Kirby said, adding that “it seems to us that this roadmap announced today is the result several rounds of talks”.
Good news for the region, a victory for Beijing
The breakthrough is good news for the region, said Anna Jacobs, senior Gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group.
“This is extremely positive news,” she said, indicating that there has been enough dialogue “to start serious confidence-building measures and agree on this roadmap to restore full diplomatic relations. The news also suggests that we are likely to have positive movement on the Ceasefire in Yemen.”
The development “shows that the dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran has succeeded after many years, and it has succeeded with the support of regional powers like Iraq and Oman, but also global powers like China” , Jacobs told CNBC.
The agreement also illustrates that China has strengthened its role in the region in new ways, particularly in mediation, Jacobs added. “For China, this is a huge victory.”
The remains of the missiles that were used to attack an Aramco oil facility are displayed during a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019.
Hamad Mohammad | Reuters
Michael Stephens, a research associate at the Royal United Services Institute in London, agreed.
“It is a serious moment in which the region itself and the two biggest powers in the region have recognized the influence, the diplomatic presence and the influence of Beijing as the main arbiter in the region,” he said. he said, noting that this is the first such example for China as a mediator in the Middle East.
“Now that doesn’t mean the United States is losing influence,” he said, pointing to the fact that the United States still has a much larger military footprint than China in the region and that its relations with Israel are much stronger than those of Beijing.
“It’s well understood, and no one disputes the power of the United States and what it could do,” he said. “What they’re challenging is the idea that the United States is in the lead. And that’s the only game in town.”
– CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.