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Iran's top diplomat visits Saudi Arabia amid diplomatic thaw

August 17, 2023

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian's visit to Saudi Arabia comes after the resumption of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh earlier this year.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (R) welcomes his Saudi counterpart Faisal Bin Farhan at an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran's Foreign Ministry building in June 2023
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Teheran in June Image: Vahid Salemi/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian is in Saudi Arabia for an official visit, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran said on Thursday.

It is the latest sign of improved relations between the two regional rivals since the resumption of diplomatic ties in March.

"Relations between Tehran and Saudi are on the right track and we are witnessing progress," Amirabdollahian said.

His Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said he hoped to see Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visit the kingdom following King Salman bin Abdulaziz's invitation.

"We look forward to a new phase in our relationship based on our Islamic brotherhood and work towards common interests," Prince Faisal said.

How are Iranian-Saudi relations?

Shiite-dominated Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked during protests. The demonstrations were in response to Riyadh's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

A Chinese-brokered deal announced in March saw the long-time rivals agreeing to reestablish relations.

Since then, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has visited Iran.

In June, Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia and Iranian state media reported earlier this month that the kingdom's embassy in Tehran had resumed operations.

According to Iranian state media, military officials from Iran and Russia met in Moscow during a security conference on Wednesday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in conflicts across the Middle East, including Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

lo/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)