Saudi and Iranian top diplomats held a call on Thursday in a further sign of improving relations between the two countries, three weeks since China brokered a deal to resume diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan held a call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to exchange greetings for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. They also agreed to hold a meeting “soon,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to expand and strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia,” Amir-Abdollahian said. The two also discussed reopening embassies and consulates in their respective countries, according to a statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Why it matters: Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed March 10 to resume diplomatic relations. Per the agreement, they are to reopen their respective embassies and consulates within two months. Iran said last week that its President Ibrahim Raisi received an invite from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to visit the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was attacked. The mob was angry about the execution of a Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia. The two countries are also on opposite sides of regional conflicts, most notably Yemen. Saudi Arabia backs the government, while Iran supports the Houthi rebels. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Iran agreed to stop covert weapons shipments to the Houthis.
The Iran-Saudi agreement demonstrated China's growing influence in the Middle East. Iraq also helped Saudi Arabia and Iran repair relations by hosting reconciliation talks starting in 2021.
Know more: Iran and Saudi Arabia agreeing to resume relations was a major geopolitical event. Pakistan, which has had good relations with both, is looking forward to calmer Iranian-Saudi relations, Sabena Siddiqui wrote for Al-Monitor this week.