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Iran’s overseas minister visits Saudi Arabia on first such journey in years as tensions ease

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s overseas minister traveled to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, marking the primary journey to the dominion by Tehran’s prime diplomat in years after the 2 nations reached a détente with Chinese language mediation.

The go to by Hossein Amirabdollahian comes as each Saudi Arabia and Iran attempt to ease tensions between their nations, which lengthy have considered one another as archrivals for affect throughout the broader Center East. Challenges stay, nevertheless, notably over Iran’s advancing nuclear program, the Saudi-led battle in Yemen and safety throughout area’s waterways.

Amirabdollahian’s journey to Riyadh comes as the 2 nations are reopening diplomatic missions in every others’ international locations. He was accompanied by Alireza Enayati, Iran’s new ambassador to the dominion.

Amirabdollahian met together with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and later delivered on-camera statements.

“Our assembly as we speak is a continuation of the steps taken in the direction of implementing the settlement to renew diplomatic relations, which represents a pivotal platform within the historical past of the 2 international locations and the trail of regional safety,” Prince Faisal stated.

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Amirabdollahian acknowledged that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hopes to journey to Saudi Arabia on an official go to.

“We consider that the concept of reaching safety and growth within the area is an concept that can’t be fragmented,” he stated.

The final Iranian overseas minister to go to Saudi Arabia on a public journey was Mohammad Javad Zarif, who traveled to the dominion in 2015 to supply condolences for the dying of King Abdullah.

The dominion broke ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts there. Saudi Arabia had executed a outstanding Shiite cleric with 46 others days earlier, triggering the demonstrations.

That got here as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then a deputy, started his rise to energy. The son of King Salman, Prince Mohammed beforehand in contrast Iran’s Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler, and threatened to strike Iran.

Since then, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear cope with world powers in 2018. Iran has been blamed for a collection of assaults after that, together with one concentrating on the guts of Saudi Arabia’s oil business in 2019, briefly halving the dominion’s crude manufacturing.

Faith additionally performs a key function in tensions as effectively. Saudi Arabia, residence to the cube-shaped Kaaba that Muslims pray towards 5 instances a day, has portrayed itself because the world’s main Sunni nation. Iran’s theocracy, in the meantime, views itself because the protector of Islam’s Shiite minority.

However after the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S.’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Gulf Arab nations together with Saudi Arabia have begun reassessing the best way to handle relations with Iran. In March, the dominion and Iran reached an settlement with Chinese language mediation to reopen embassies.

The battle in Yemen continues, although Saudi-led strikes have dropped dramatically amid its efforts to withdraw from the battle, which has seen the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels preserve their yearslong maintain on the capital, Sanaa.

In the meantime, the U.S. is mediating a possible diplomatic recognition by Saudi Arabia of Israel, although Riyadh apparently seeks protection ensures and entry to American nuclear know-how. Whereas in a roundabout way acknowledging that mediation, Amirabdollahian stated Iran supported the Palestinians whereas criticizing Israel.

“We shouldn’t have any doubt that the Zionist entity is searching for to unfold division, hostility and occupying our area,” he stated.


Related Press author Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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