A high-powered Iranian delegation was accorded a warm welcome by Saudi authorities as they landed in Saudi Arabia to re-open diplomatic missions as the Gulf rivals prepare to normalize relations, seven years after an acrimonious split.
Analysts said the Iranian delegation received an unprecedented welcome upon their arrival on the holly land. Saudi and Iranian authorities formal;y announced the motive behind the visit of the delegation.
The announcement came just days after a Saudi delegation made a similar visit to Tehran hot on the heels of a historic meeting in China between the two governments’ foreign ministers who vowed to bring stability to the turbulent region.
The recent visit of an Iranian delegation to Saudi Arabia marks a significant step towards normalizing diplomatic relations between the two Gulf rivals. The visit comes after a historic meeting in China between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia, where they vowed to bring stability to the region.
The Iranian delegation arrived in Riyadh to visit and reopen the Iranian embassy and consulate, in accordance with the recent agreement between the two countries. One team is expected to travel to Jeddah to prepare for the reopening of Iran’s consulate there and its representation in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, while the other will remain in Riyadh to reopen the embassy.
This diplomatic activity follows a Chinese-brokered announcement last month that Iran and Saudi Arabia would work towards resuming ties after their relations were severed in 2016 when Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric. This led to a series of flashpoints between the two countries.
In addition to the efforts to restore diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia is also negotiating with Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels, with the aim of stabilizing a lapsed truce and working towards a comprehensive political solution in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has been involved in a military intervention in Yemen since 2015, as part of its proxy wars with Iran in the region.
Analysts believe that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to normalize relations with Iran and seek a resolution in Yemen are driven by a desire to focus on domestic projects aimed at diversifying its economy, as the world’s biggest oil exporter. This marks a potential shift in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy approach in the Middle East.