Iran’s Raisi invites Saudi king to visit Tehran

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani. — Twitter/@IRIMFA_EN
  • Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson announces development.
  • It comes soon after both countries resumed diplomatic ties.
  • Move to restore ties is to ease tensions in the Middle East.

Signalling a thaw in years of hostility with Saudi Arabia, Iran has sent an official invite to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Monday.

“Iranian President (Ebrahim Raisi) has sent an invitation to the Saudi king in return for an invitation by Riyadh for him,” Nasser Kanaani said during a televised news conference, according to Arab News.

The development comes soon after Saudi officials visited Iran earlier this month to discuss the reopening of Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad, following a deal — brokered by China — that aims to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries in March.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported that delegations from both countries are preparing to officially reopen their missions, which would restart their activities by May 9.

The deal in March to end the conflict was brokered by Chinese President Xi Jinping and surprised all sides, effectively sidelining the United States.

The move aimed to ease tensions in the Middle East.

Sour relations between Tehran and Riyadh have fuelled several conflicts — both direct and indirect — across the Middle East. The diplomatic rift between the two countries goes back seven years.

The two states have been on bad terms since 2016, when Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries following Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones across the Middle East, including in Yemen where the Houthi rebels are backed by Tehran, and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government.

“Following talks, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies and missions within two months,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA said, citing the joint statement.

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