DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran and Saudi Arabia on Friday agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after years of tensions between the two countries, including a devastating attack on the heart of the kingdom's oil production attributed to Tehran.
The deal, struck in Beijing this week amid its ceremonial National People’s Congress, represents a major diplomatic victory for the Chinese as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider Middle East. It also comes as diplomats have been trying to end a yearslong war in Yemen, a conflict in which both Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply entrenched.
The two countries released a joint communique on the deal with China, which brokered the agreement. Chinese state media did not immediately report the agreement.
Iranian state media posted images and video it described as being taken in China of the meeting. It showed Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban and Wang Yi, China's most senior diplomat.
“After implementing the decision, the foreign ministers of both nations will meet to prepare for the exchange of ambassadors,” Iranian state television said. It added that the talks had been held over four days.
The joint statement calls for the re-establishing of ties and the reopening of embassies to happen “within a maximum period of two months.”
In the footage aired by Iranian media, Wang could be heard offering “whole-hearted congratulations” on the two countries' “wisdom."
“Both sides have displayed sincerity,” he said. “China fully supports this agreement.”
China, which recently hosted Iran's hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, is also a top purchaser of Saudi oil. President Xi Jinping, just awarded a third five-year term as president earlier on Friday, visited Riyadh in December to attend meetings with oil-rich Gulf Arab nations crucial to China’s energy supplies.
Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Shamkhani as calling the talks "clear, transparent, comprehensive and constructive.”
“Removing misunderstandings and the future-oriented views in relations between Tehran and Riyadh will definitely lead to improving regional stability and security, as well as increasing cooperation among Persian Gulf nations and the world of Islam for managing current challenges,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying.
Shortly after the Iranian announcement, Saudi state media began publishing the same statement.
It remains unclear, however, what this means for America. Though long viewed as guaranteeing Mideast energy security, regional leaders have grown increasingly wary of Washington's intentions after its chaotic 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment over the announced deal.