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China's emergence as Saudi-Iran broker signals multipolar diplomacy in Middle East

As China hosts on Thursday the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers in Beijing, the Gulf states have an opportunity to capitalize on its growing role.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd-L) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (2nd-R) at Great Hall of the People on March 17, 2017 in Beijing, China. At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, King Salman Bin Abdul-Aaziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will pay a state visit to China from March 15 to 18, 2017. (Photo by Lintao Zhang - Pool/Getty Images)
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DOHA — In a world where superpowers vie for influence, the recent China-mediated reconciliation deal last month restoring diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Thursday's meeting in Beijing between Saudi and Iranian top diplomats, underscores the region's intricacies and offers a rare diplomatic boost.

This agreement may prove to be an important first step in reaching a conclusion over the Yemen war, ongoing between the Saudi coalition and the Iran-backed Houthis since 2014. Furthermore, it opens the door to greater integration with China, as it paves the way for both Saudi Arabia and Iran to potentially become part of the BRICS group, serving as a counterweight to the G7. This will also build on Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement that it is to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a “dialogue partner.”

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