Iran reopens its embassy in Riyadh after seven years of diplomatic estrangement

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Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday, ushering in a new phase of relations between the two archrivals, after seven years of diplomatic estrangement that ended in a sudden Chinese-brokered agreement last March.

An AFP correspondent attended a party marking the re-establishment of the mission at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic’s embassy in the Saudi capital.

Tehran sent Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Ali Reza Bekdli to attend the ceremony, which was also attended by Iranian Chargé d’Affaires Hassan Zarnegar.

It was also attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Consular Affairs, Ali al Youssef, from the Saudi side.

On Monday, Iran announced, through its foreign ministry spokesman, that its embassy in Riyadh, the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Jeddah, and the office of Iran’s representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will be officially reopened on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The reopening coincided with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which aims to strengthen Washington’s relations with the oil-rich country while Saudi Arabia draws closer to US adversaries.

The Iranian diplomatic mission, which stopped its work in Saudi Arabia in 2016, returns to Riyadh under the leadership of Ali Reza Enayati, who previously held the position of Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, assistant foreign minister and director general for Gulf affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to Iranian media.

The mission will resume its work at its old headquarters in the diplomatic quarter in Riyadh, near the Syrian embassy, ​​which is scheduled to reopen soon as well, with Riyadh and Damascus announcing last month the return of their diplomatic missions to work.

Saudi Arabia hasn’t yet confirmed the date of reopening its embassy in Tehran or its selection of an ambassador.

The KSA severed relations with Iran in 2016 after demonstrators in the Islamic Republic attacked Saudi diplomatic missions, against the backdrop of the execution of the Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al Nimr.

After years of disagreement, the two countries signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in China on March 10.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has restored relations with Syria, Tehran’s ally, and escalated its efforts for peace in Yemen, where it has been leading a military coalition against the Iran-backed Houthis for years.

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