RIYADH: Iran’s embassy in Saudi Arabia opened its gates on Wednesday for the first time in seven years as the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries gathered pace.
The diplomatic mission opened hours after the Iranian Foreign Ministry said a technical delegation had arrived in the Kingdom to oversee the work.
The move is the latest product of a historic Chinese-brokered deal signed in Beijing in March for Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations and restore previous agreements on security, trade and investment.
“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,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.
“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 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.”
Both countries’ foreign ministers met in Beijing this month for the first formal gathering of their top diplomats. ASaudi technical delegation met Iran’s chief of protocol in Tehran last week, and is due to fly on to Iran’s second city Mashhad on Thursday.
As the contacts grow, Saudi Arabia is also negotiating with the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen to bring about an end to the nine-year conflict there. Saudi ambassador Mohammed Al-Jaber is in Sanaa, Yemen’s Houthi-held capital, hoping to stabilize an existing ceasefire and work toward a comprehensive political solution between the Houthis and Yemen’s legitimate government. In the first fruits of those talks, a three-day operation to exchange about 900 prisoners is expected to begin on Friday.
Analysts have told Arab News that the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran has rejuvenated the peace process in Yemen.
“The regional peace agreements will not solve all of the problems swiftly,” Yemeni affairs expert Badr Al-Qahtani said. “However, they will inspire everyone, and regional powers will prompt their allies, while utilizing trust and influence, to push for peace.”
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