Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to restore ties following China-brokered talks

Iran and Saudi Arabia have made a historic announcement to restore diplomatic ties after five years of tension and conflict. The announcement was made jointly with China on Friday, stating that Riyadh and Tehran would reopen embassies and consulates within the next two months.

The Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will meet to begin arranging the exchange of ambassadors and discuss ways to strengthen the renewed relations, according to the statement. The countries have also agreed to reactivate a 2001 security co-operation agreement and 1998 deals on the economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports, and youth. The deal was reached by Saudi and Iranian delegations over the past week in Beijing, officials said.

“As a result of the talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies … within two months,” reported Iran’s state news agency Irna.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan welcomed the resumption of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran, stating that it comes as part of the kingdom’s vision of preferring political solutions and dialogue, and its keenness to uphold this in the Middle East.

The resumption of ties is “major good news” in the current turbulent world, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The US also expressed hope that the deal would help end conflict in Yemen and reduce regional tensions.

The trilateral statement on the resumption of diplomatic ties was welcomed by Oman, which had reportedly hosted talks in 2021 and 2022. Iraq said the agreement was “turning a new page” between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Why is it significant that Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restored ties?

The restoration of ties between the two countries is a significant development as they have fought a proxy war in Yemen through the Iranian-tied Houthi rebels, and the Saudi Arabian-aligned government that has also received support from the US government. The two countries’ proxies are at odds elsewhere in the region, including in Lebanon and Iraq.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran may see fewer tensions because of the accord, experts said. Many hoped that it would decrease violence in Yemen and lead to fewer spats between the two countries. The agreement could also provide cover for the Saudis to pursue the US’s efforts of normalizing ties between the Saudis and Israel without incurring “a physical response” from Iran. However, Israel is unlikely to be very happy with the development, as Iran has long been considered a particularly staunch nemesis of Israel.

Image Credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File