Iran has officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Tuesday, seven years after it was closed due to a diplomatic rift between the two regional rivals.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani announced the move on Monday, saying that the embassy and the consulate in Jeddah had already started operating to facilitate pilgrimages for the Hajj and now they will be formally reopened in the presence of the two countries’ foreign ministry officials.
The reopening of the embassy is part of a China-brokered agreement that Iran and Saudi Arabia signed in Beijing on March 10, which set a deadline of two months to restore diplomatic relations. The agreement also paved the way for a series of high-level meetings between the two sides to discuss regional security and cooperation.
The diplomatic rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia comes after years of hostility and tension over various issues, such as the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, where they have backed opposing sides, as well as the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Saudi Arabia has opposed.
The diplomatic rift reached its peak in 2016, when Saudi Arabia cut off ties with Iran after its embassy and consulate in Tehran and Mashhad were stormed by protesters following the execution of a prominent Shia cleric by the Sunni-majority kingdom.
The reopening of the embassy is seen as a major step towards improving relations and stability in the region, as well as enhancing cooperation on various issues of mutual interest, such as trade, energy, security and culture.