Iran, Saudi Arabia Say They’ve Agreed To Restore Ties

Iran, Saudi Arabia Reach Agreement

( – In 2016, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran amid mutual tension. The split took place just after the execution of Saudi Shia Cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who spoke out against the Saudi government. According to the BBC, Iran vowed the country would pay a “high price” for the killing and accused the nation of silencing its own critics. Years later, it seems the two countries have built a bridge.

On March 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released a joint statement with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China. Iran and Saudi Arabia announced they had reached an agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open their previously closed embassies within two months. The communication also thanked China for facilitating the discussions.

The agreement stated their respective ambassadors would return to their posts, and there would be ongoing talks to enhance the nations’ “bilateral relations.”

The Hill reported the director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute, Alex Vatanka, questioned whether the new agreement would promote peace in the region, as the countries claimed. He noted that issues surrounding Yemen would be particularly difficult to address, considering Iran and Saudi Arabia support opposite ends of the war there. Vatanka stated that while opening embassies is a good first step, productive communications going forward could be challenging.

Newsweek reported that National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby stated the United States was well aware of the negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Kirby said the US stands behind “any effort to de-escalate tensions” in the Middle East. He, like Vatanka, wonders if open communications between the two nations will actually happen. Kirby said Iran is not known for keeping “its word,” but the administration hopes they do.

As for China’s involvement, the national security coordinator assured the US is keeping a sharp eye on the Asian nation and its influence here and elsewhere in the world.

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