Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud of Saudi Arabia had a meeting with Iran’s Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran spoke by phone to mark the start of Ramadan and have agreed to meet “soon” to begin the process of reopening embassies and consulates, the foreign ministry said. Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud had a phone call with his counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the couple “exchanged greetings and congratulations on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan,” which begins Thursday in both countries, the ministry said.
“The two ministers agreed to hold a bilateral meeting shortly to pave the way for the reopening of embassies and consulates between the two countries,” the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry said in a statement on Twitter.
🇸🇦📞 🇮🇷 | Minister of Foreign Affairs HH Prince @Faisalbin Farhan contacted by phone #IranMinister of Foreign Affairs @Amirabdolahian. pic.twitter.com/PSlRPVOs69
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs 🇸🇦 (@KSAMofaEN) March 23, 2023
The ministers’ expected meeting would be the next step in normalizing relations between the two countries after the surprise rapprochement announced on March 10 through Chinese mediation, which is expected to restore diplomatic ties seven years after they were broken.
Riyadh severed relations with Tehran after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi Arabian diplomatic missions in the country in 2016 following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim scholar — just one in a series of flashpoints between the two long-standing regional rivals.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported rival parties in several conflict zones in the Middle East, including in Yemen, where the Houthi rebels are supported by Tehran and where Riyadh leads a military coalition that supports the government.
But both sides have recently tried to improve ties.
The China-brokered deal is expected to see Shiite Iran and mostly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation agreements signed more than 20 years ago.
On Sunday, an Iranian official said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had positively received an invitation from King Salman to visit Saudi Arabia, though Riyadh has yet to confirm. Amir-Abdollahian also told reporters the same day that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting between their top diplomats and three locations had been proposed, without specifying which.
The détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran has the potential to reshape relations in a region that has been marked by turbulence for decades.