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Iran, Saudi thank Oman for facilitating talks

11 Mar 2023

Muscat – Iran and Saudi Arabia thanked Oman and Iraq for facilitating talks between the two, which led to resumption of diplomatic relations.

In Friday’s statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia said they “thank the Republic of Iraq and the Sultanate of Oman for hosting the talks held between the two sides in 2021 and 2022 as well as the leaders and government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting and supporting the talks held in that country”.

Welcoming the trilateral statement, Oman hoped that resumption of ties will contribute to strengthening the pillars of security and stability in the region and consolidating positive and constructive cooperation that benefit all peoples of the region and the world.

H E Sayyid Badr al Busaidi, Foreign Minister, received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Friday, when the latter thanked Oman for hosting Saudi-Iran talks in Muscat, which culminated in the agreement to resume diplomatic relations.

Iran, Saudi to restore ties

Regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to restore ties and reopen diplomatic missions in a surprise, Chinese-brokered announcement that could have wide-ranging implications across the Middle East.

In a trilateral statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia said they would reopen embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

Riyadh cut ties after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016 following the Saudi execution of revered Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr – just one in a series of flashpoints between the two longstanding rivals.

Friday’s announcement, which follows five days of previously unannounced talks in Beijing and several rounds of dialogue in Iraq and Oman, caps a broader realignment and efforts to ease tensions in the region.

“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,” said the joint statement, which was published by both countries’ official media.

The detente between Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Iran, a pariah for Western governments over its nuclear activities, has the potential to reshape relations across the region.

Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones including Yemen, where the Huthi rebels are backed by Tehran and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government. The two sides also vie for influence in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

“It kind of sets the scene for the region’s two superpowers to start to hash out their differences,” said Dina Esfandiary of the International Crisis Group.

“The potential downside of that, of course, is that if they are the ones who are divvying up the region and sorting things out amongst themselves, you start to lose sight of regional contexts and grievances, which could potentially be problematic.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian welcomed the rapprochement and said Tehran will “actively prepare other regional initiatives”.

He tweeted, “The return to normal relations between Tehran and Riyadh offers great opportunities to the two countries, the region and the Muslim world.”

Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat Prince Faisal bin Farhan al Saud said the agreement stems from the kingdom’s preference for “political solutions and dialogue” – an approach it wants to see become the norm in the region.

The White House welcomed the deal, but said it remains to be seen whether the Iranians will “meet their obligations”.


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