Saudi, Iran foreign ministers to meet during Ramadan

Planned meeting comes after Saudi Arabia and Iran signed a landmark deal to restore ties after seven years of estrangement.

China's Wang Yi, Iran's Ali Shamkhani, and Saudi Arabia's Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban pose for pictures during a meeting in Beijing, China March 10, 2023.
The detente between Saudi Arabia and Iran has the potential to reshape relations across a region characterised by turbulence for decades [File: China Daily via Reuters]

Iran and Saudi Arabia’s top diplomats have agreed to meet before the end of the holy month of Ramadan to implement a landmark bilateral reconciliation deal that was brokered by China.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, made the decision after holding their second phone call in less than a week, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

“During the call, a number of common issues were discussed in light of the tripartite agreement that was signed in the People’s Republic of China,” the SPA said.

“The two ministers also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting between them during the ongoing month of Ramadan,” SPA said.

The report did not specify the exact date or location of the meeting.

Ramadan began last week and ends in the third week of April.

Saudi officials have said the meeting is the next step in restoring ties seven years after they were severed.

Riyadh cut relations after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016 following the Saudi execution of Shia Muslim leader Nimr al-Nimr — just one in a series of flashpoints between the two longstanding regional rivals.

The deal is expected to see Shia-majority Iran and mainly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

An Iranian official said on March 19 that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had favourably received an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia from King Salman, though Riyadh has yet to confirm.

Amir-Abdollahian told reporters the same day that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting between their top diplomats and that three locations had been suggested without specifying which.

The detente between Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, and Iran, strongly at odds with Western governments over its nuclear activities, has the potential to reshape relations across a region characterised by turbulence for decades.

Source: News Agencies