Iran and Saudi Arabia Collaborate to Resolve 7-Year Rift

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TEHRAN, June 18, (AP): Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister arrived in Iran’s capital on Saturday, the latest step in the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two Mideast rivals, Iranian state media reported. Prince Faisal bin Farhan was officially welcomed by his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran TV said. He carried a message from the Saudi king to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the two were due to meet later Saturday, Iran TV said. Later, Prince Faisal said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman officially invited Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia, according to the state TV broadcast of a joint news conference.

The visit comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Saudi Arabia earlier in June. In March, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions. The move sent shock waves through the Middle East, especially Israel, Iran’s archenemy. Prince Faisal was expected to officially inaugurate the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran later Saturday. Until the mission is completed, employees were working from a Tehran hotel, Iran TV said. Both nations reopened their diplomatic missions in recent weeks.

The agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations was a major breakthrough brokered by China that lowered the chances of further conflict between Riyadh and Tehran – both directly and in proxy confl icts around the region. Soon after exploding in 2014, Yemen’s conflict turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which led a military coalition backing Yemen’s internationally recognized government, and Iran, which has aided the country’s Houthi rebels. Iran has been blamed for a series of attacks in recent years following the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. One of those targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in 2019, temporarily halving the kingdom’s crude production.

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