Iranian foreign minister leaves for Riyadh in 1st visit since resumption of ties

Iranian foreign minister leaves for Riyadh in 1st visit since resumption of ties

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Riyadh comes 2 months after Saudi foreign minister visited Tehran

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN (AA) - Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian embarked on a day-long visit to Riyadh on Thursday in the first official trip by a top Iranian diplomat to the Arab country in more than seven years.

Iran's state media said Amir-Abdollahian will hold talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan as well as other Saudi officials.

Speculation is rife that the Iranian foreign minister will also meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during the trip that comes at the invitation of the Saudi foreign minister.

The much-anticipated visit, Iran's state media said, aims to "facilitate and speed up the implementation of agreements reached between" the two sides in March in Beijing when they agreed to restore diplomatic ties.

During this trip, Iran's newly appointed ambassador to Riyadh Alireza Enayati will start his diplomatic mission in the Arab country, which will be followed by the deputation of the Saudi envoy to the Iranian capital.

Enayati, a senior Iranian diplomat and former ambassador to Kuwait, was appointed the new Iranian ambassador to Saudi Arabia in May, weeks before Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh as well as the consulate in the port city of Jeddah.

Last week, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran has also resumed its operations after more than seven years.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Monday said that during Amir-Abdollahian's visit, the two sides will hold consultations on various issues, including the expansion of economic cooperation, while stressing that ties between them are "progressing step by step."

Kanaani also referred to an official invitation from the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Riyadh.

The Iranian foreign minister’s visit came a day after Aziz Nasirzadeh, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, met his Saudi counterpart Talal Bin Abdullah Al-Otaibi in Moscow in the first high-level contact between the military officials of the two countries since the rapprochement.

The Saudi foreign minister during his visit to Tehran in June announced that the Saudi Embassy in Tehran will be reopened soon, but did not specify the date.

During the visit, Prince Farhan and his Iranian counterpart Amir-Abdollahian agreed on forming joint political and economic committees to pursue common interests.

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in January 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad were stormed by angry mobs following the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric.

The two neighbors started negotiations to revive ties in April 2021, brokered by Iraq and Oman. After nearly two years, the breakthrough was reached courtesy of China.

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