In a major diplomatic breakthrough negotiated by China, last Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations, including reopening their embassies, the Associated Press reported.
Struck in Beijing, the deal is a significant diplomatic victory for China as the United States has been slowly withdrawing from the Middle East.
In a joint statement, the two countries call for reestablishing diplomatic ties and reopening their embassies within two months. Additionally, there will be a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The statement credited Chinese President Xi Jinping for facilitating talks through a “noble initiative” by personally agreeing to sponsor last week’s negotiations.
In video footage from last week’s agreement, China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi offered “wholehearted congratulations” on the “wisdom” of Saudi Arabia and Iran for displaying “sincerity.” Wang assured the two countries that China supports the agreement.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, described last week’s talks in Beijing as “clear, transparent, comprehensive, and constructive,” according to Iran’s IRNA news agency. He said improved relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would also improve the security and stability of the region.
Saudi national security advisor Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban thanked Oman and Iraq for acting as mediators between the two countries, adding that while Riyadh values what was reached in the talks, the kingdom hopes that “constructive dialogue” between Iran and Saudi Arabia will continue.
The move was welcomed by the United Nations who thanked China for its role in facilitating the agreement. UN spokeswoman Stéphane Durjarric told reporters that good relations between the Saudis and Iran are “essential” to the Gulf region’s stability.
While the White House also welcomed the agreement in hopes that reestablishing diplomatic relations could bring an end to the ongoing civil war in Yemen, the State Department expressed doubt over a Mideast agreement in which the US played no part, and questioned whether Tehran will stick to the deal, the Associated Press reported.