Iran, Saudi foreign ministers set to meet soon: Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Sunday he will meet his Saudi counterpart in the near future, adding that three places have been proposed for holding the high-profile meeting.

Speaking at a year-end press conference in the capital Tehran, the top diplomat said Tehran and Riyadh have so far agreed to have technical teams visit the embassies and consulates in the two countries that were shut down in January 2016.

The two estranged Persian Gulf neighbors last week announced the restoration of diplomatic ties after several days of deliberations between the top security officials of the two countries in Beijing.

Giving details about the China-brokered rapprochement, which came after two years of diplomatic parleys in Iraq and Oman, Amir-Abdollahian said Chinese President Xi Jinping had offered to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh during President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Beijing in February.

He said Iran initially proposed to hold the talks at the level of deputy foreign ministers, but the Saudi side insisted on having a 'high-level security dialogue' between the two sides after which it was decided to send top security official Ali Shamkhani to Beijing.

Shamkhani, who heads Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), led the talks on behalf of Tehran that broke the diplomatic ice with Riyadh and ended the seven-year deadlock.

After clinching the diplomatic deal with Riyadh in Beijing, Iran's top security official dashed off to Abu Dhabi for high-level talks with top Emirati officials, followed by a visit to Baghdad on Sunday.

Amir-Abdollahian said the ministry and the country's top security body are 'working in close coordination' while emphasizing that Shamkhani's regional tour has a 'security aspect'.

Diplomatic drive

Amir-Abdollahian said Iran and Saudi Arabia have been exchanging messages through Switzerland over the past several days.

In the last message, Iran expressed its readiness for the foreign ministerial meeting and proposed three potential venues for it, he added.

Based on the agreement and coordination between the two sides, the Iranian minister said, 'practical action' will be taken to reopen the embassies and consulates in the two countries soon.

Iran's top diplomat said the country 'welcomes restoration of relations' with all countries in the region, adding that ties with the UAE and Kuwait 'have been upgraded to the ambassadorial level'.

The two Arab countries had downgraded their diplomatic relations with Iran in solidarity with Riyadh after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was stormed by angry protesters in January 2016 over the execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

The rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh has also led to speculation about a similar peace agreement between Iran and Bahrain, a key regional ally of the Saudi government.

Amir-Abdollahian said Oman proposed an initiative during his visit to Manama in October 2022 aimed at the restoration of ties between Iran and Bahrain.

Two months ago, he added, a preliminary agreement was reached between the two sides to have technical delegations visit the respective embassies.

An Iranian parliamentary delegation also traveled to Manama recently to participate in the inter-parliamentary summit, Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that Tehran 'welcomes the return of relations' with regional countries, including Bahrain.

His remarks came after a member of an Iranian parliamentary delegation that visited Bahrain said the two countries would re-open embassies soon. The official confirmation on this is still awaited.

The Iranian foreign minister also said Tehran 'welcomes the development' of relations with Egypt and seeks the 'promotion of relations with Jordan to the ambassadorial level'.

'The normalization of Tehran-Riyadh relations will leave a positive impact on the entire region and the Islamic world,' Amir-Abdollahian said.

On Shamkhani's Iraq visit, the top diplomat said it was coordinated four months ago, pointing to the security aspect of the trip and the presence of 'terrorist groups' in northern Iraq's Kurdish region.

He said a 'security document' will be signed between the two countries during Shamkhani's visit on Sunday 'for the first time', confirming reports doing rounds.

Source: Anadolu Agency