Politics & News

Bin Salman Diplomacy … What We Know on the Iranian Foreign Minister’s Visit to Saudi Arabia?

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman met today Friday with the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian at the highest level since the reconciliation between the two countries in March.



The unscheduled meeting in Jeddah came a day after Hussein Amir Abdullahian arrived in the kingdom and announced that relations between the two countries were on track after talks with Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan.



 Honest & fruitful discussions


“The discussions were honest, useful, and fruitful,” Amir Abdullahian said on social media after meeting with the crown prince, adding that the two countries “agreed on the security and development of the region.”



In a meeting covered by Iranian state media, Mohammed bin Salman and Abdullahian smiled as they spoke with Prince Faisal and the Iranian delegation.



Saudi Arabia’s official press agency said they will discuss international and regional developments. Restoration of full diplomatic relations



Chinese mediation by March led to the restoration of full diplomatic relations, which Saudi Arabia severed in 2016 when protesters stormed the embassy in Tehran over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.



Prince Faisal visited Tehran in June and expressed hope that Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi would visit the kingdom “at an appropriate time”.



Iranian officials said Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wanted to end political and economic isolation from the United States and saw new ties with Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to do so.



At the same time, Saudi Arabia lost faith in the US commitment to regional security concerns and wanted to strengthen relations with China, which maintained good relations with Iran. This month,  China managed to attend a diplomatic meeting on Ukraine, which Beijing had previously avoided. Prince Faisal also spoke by phone with Anthony Blinken as they discussed increasing coordination “to increase security and stability in the Middle East region,” Saudi state media said on Friday.


Amir Abdullahian described Thursday’s meeting in the Islamic Solidarity Hall of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “a prelude to the meeting of the presidents of the countries”, but did not specify when Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will visit Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the king Salman.



He said: “We are sure that these meetings and cooperation will contribute to the unity of the Muslim world,” referring to “regional dialogue” but giving no details.


During a visit to the capital of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s foreign minister described the progress of the Chinese-brokered agreement between Riyadh and Tehran.


In a joint press conference with  Prince Faisal bin Farhan of Saudi Arabia, he said: “Relations between Tehran and Saudi Arabia are on the right track. We are witnessing progress,” adding: “The negotiation was successful.”


Prince Faisal said: “Our meeting today is a continuation of the steps taken to implement the agreement to restore diplomatic relations, which is a key forum in the history of the two countries and on the way to regional security.”


In June, Faisal met with Iranian officials in Tehran, his first trip to Iran since a China-brokered deal in March to restart relations between the two regional rivals.

 The first visit by an Iranian official since 2015


The last Iranian foreign minister to make a public trip to Saudi Arabia was Mohammad Javad Zarif, who traveled to the kingdom in 2015 to honor the death of King Abdullah.



Faisal said that the kingdom wants to follow all the main points of the treatment brokered by China, whether economic or political, and the ambassadors of the countries will continue their duties in their embassies after the reopening.


He noted that Saudi Arabia hopes to visit Rais, who was invited by King Salman bin Abdulaziz in June. Raisi said that he would travel to the kingdom “in due time”.  Anna Jacobs, a Gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the visits and reopening of embassies were “important confidence-building measures”.



“The rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran is still in its early stages, and it is not yet entirely clear how both sides will deal with their many contentious issues,” he said.

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