Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed in the Chinese capital Beijing to resume diplomatic relations that were severed seven years ago. Thus, the two major countries of West Asia and North Africa repaired their relations, disrupted in 2016, in Asia.
The meetings between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which began on March 6 and were hosted by China, concluded.
In a joint statement, Iranian, Saudi and Chinese officials said that as a result of the negotiations, both countries will reopen their embassies within a period not exceeding two months and will not interfere in each other’s internal affairs. They also agreed to activate the security cooperation agreement signed on April 17, 2001 and the 1998 agreement on cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth signed on May 27.
Secretary General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani and Saudi Arabia’s National Security Advisor Mousaid al-Ayban led the negotiations. Shahmani said the discussions were held in an “open, transparent, comprehensive and constructive” manner. He said the agreement would “promote regional stability and security as well as increased cooperation between the Persian Gulf and the Islamic world to overcome current challenges.”
‘We share a common destiny’
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said, “The normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will offer great opportunities to the two countries, the region and the Islamic world.” Stating that establishing good relations with neighbors is the ” main focus” of the Iranian government’s foreign policy and that this policy is moving strongly in the right direction, Abdullahiyan noted that the steps that unite the region are accelerating.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said, “The resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is due to our vision that prioritizes political solutions and dialogue and our desire to make this vision sustainable in the region.” Bin Ferhan emphasized that the countries of the region have “a single destiny and a common denominator.”
‘Victory for dialogue’
Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat and director of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Bureau, who attended the meetings, expressed his “heartfelt congratulations to both countries for their wisdom.” He continued: “This agreement is a victory for dialogue and peace. It is good news at a time when there is so much instability in the world. Both sides have shown sincerity. China fully supports this agreement. China has completed its hosting role as a well-intentioned and reliable mediator.”
Noting that China will continue to play a constructive role in solving important issues in the world and show that it takes responsibility as a great country, Wang said, “The issues in the world are not limited to the Ukrainian issue.”
U.S. and Israel worried
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said that “the Iranian regime often does not keep its promises” and that the United States nevertheless supports any effort to de-escalate tensions in the region. Arguing that China is seeking influence elsewhere in the world in pursuit of its “selfish interests,” Kirby said Beijing’s mediation “does not mean that the United States is withdrawing or standing back from the Middle East region.”
An analysis in the New York Times, the leading US newspaper, argued that the move “could complicate geopolitics in the Middle East and beyond”. The article argued that the emerging situation was a “lose-lose” scenario for the White House. The Washington Post said the deal “stunned Washington”, while the Wall Street Journal argued that it was “a victory for China’s new model of diplomacy”.
The Israeli government has not yet issued an official statement. Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the deal was “a dangerous development that removes Israel’s regional defense wall against Iran.”He blamed Netanyahu’s government by saying, “This agreement reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.”
The Arab world greets the agreement
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) welcomed the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic relations.
Arab countries also issued the following statements hailing the decision:
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed welcomed it as “an important step towards stability and prosperity” in the region.
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry hailed it as “a positive step towards resolving regional disputes through dialogue and diplomatic means, building international relations on the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and good neighborliness.”
The Foreign Ministry of Algeria emphasized that “this step will strengthen cooperation and solidarity between the two countries and the two brotherly peoples”.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said that the agreement “will ensure stability, trust and cooperation among the countries of the region, end the pending crises, and frustrate the efforts of some countries seeking a military solution to the crises.”
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry expressed great pleasure with the progress of the normalization negotiations in Iraq, stressing that “a new page has been opened in diplomatic relations” and “regional cooperation will gain momentum”.
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdurrahman Al Thani congratulated his Saudi Arabian counterpart Faisal bin Farhan by phone.
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision. It noted that this step “will leave a positive mark on regional relations” in the coming period.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it “hopes that it will contribute to easing tensions in the region and strengthening Arab national security and stability”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman hoped that it would “consolidate the foundations of security and stability in the region” and “foster constructive cooperation that will benefit the whole world”.
The Foreign Ministry of Jordan expressed the hope that it would “contribute to consolidating security and stability in the region and safeguarding the sovereignty of states”.
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Welcoming with pleasure
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement:
“We welcome the agreement reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing on March 10, which envisages the restoration of diplomatic relations. We congratulate Iran and Saudi Arabia on this important step in line with the détente and normalization processes that have been prevailing in the Middle East for some time, and we believe that this progress in the relations between the two countries will contribute significantly to the security, stability and prosperity of our region.”