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April 12, 2023 11:08 am

Iranian Delegation Arrives in Saudi Arabia to Advance Restoration of Ties

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Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a campaign rally in Tehran, Iran June 15, 2021. Photo: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

i24 NewsAn Iranian delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to pave the way for the reopening of its embassy and consulates for the first time in seven years, as the Gulf rivals restore their diplomatic relations.

The announcement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry came just days after a Saudi delegation visited Tehran on a similar mission. The two sides are normalizing relations after a seven-year split thanks to an agreement brokered by China.

“In accordance with the implementation of the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the resumption of diplomatic activities… the Iranian technical delegation arrived in Riyadh at midday Wednesday and was welcomed by Saudi officials,” said Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani.

“The Iranian delegation will take the necessary steps to reopen the embassy in Riyadh and the consulate general in Jeddah as well as the activities of Iran’s permanent representative in the (Jeddah-based) Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” he said in a statement.

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According to a Reuters witness, the Iranian embassy in Riyadh reopened its gates hours after the delegation arrived, with a team inspecting its premises and a white truck seen arriving.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has been invited to Saudi Arabia, according to Tehran, in what would be the first visit of its kind since then-president Mohammad Khatami visited in 1999. Riyadh broke off relations in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric.

The flurry of diplomatic activity follows last month’s landmark announcement that Iran and Saudi Arabia would work toward resuming ties. The two Gulf rivals, who have backed opposing sides in conflicts around the Middle East – most notably Yemen – have said the detente will help stabilize the region.

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