RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister (FM) Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the Saudi government is preparing for the resumption of bilateral relations with Iran in a couple of months and expressed hope to exchange visits with Iran.
In a Chinese-mediated deal, Saudi Arabia and Iran have decided to resume their diplomatic relations and reached a concord to reopen embassies that were shut down since 2016. The tensions were at their peak as the Saudi government executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr upon conviction of terrorism among other 46 people.
Prince Faisal, in an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Sharq Al Awsat news agency, said that the recent agreement with Tehran to resume diplomatic ties confirms the desire of both sides “to resolve differences through communication and dialogue”.
He also stressed that it doesn’t mean that it has “resolved all the other outstanding differences between the two countries.”
Prince Faisal said he was looking forward to meeting his Iranian counterpart soon as per the agreement. “We are preparing to resume diplomatic relations between our countries within the next two months, and it’s natural that we exchange visits in the future,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are neighboring countries that have many common features such as religion, culture and history, said the Saudi minister.
The Saudi prince also stressed that the deal “served as evidence of our mutual desire to resolve [the differences] through communication and dialogue, through peaceful ways and diplomatic instruments.”
Prince Faisal also added that the Kingdom hopes to open a new chapter with Iran and to enhance the prospects of cooperation in a way that positively impacts the strengthening of security and stability, and the advancement of development and prosperity, not only for Saudi Arabia and Iran but in the region as a whole.
The Saudi minister, while talking about the Iranian nuclear program, stated that Iran’s continued development of its nuclear capabilities is undoubtedly a concern for the kingdom, and the Saudi government repeats its call for the Gulf region and the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction.
He went on to mention that Saudi Arabia calls on Iran to commit to its nuclear obligations and increase its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “We will continue to work with allies and friends in order to ensure this,” Faisal bin Farhan highlighted.
Underlining the Chinese mediation between the two countries, the Saudi Prince said: “China has positive relations with both parties, which contributed to aligning views and highlighting the legitimate concerns of the Kingdom.”
He also expressed his hopes for China as a promoter of peace and cooperation between both parties by saying “the Kingdom hopes that China’s mediation of the agreement will contribute to enhancing coexistence and shared security in the Middle East and improve neighborly relationships between the countries.”
On Friday, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish relations after years of hostility that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria.
The deal, brokered by China, was announced after four days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two rival Middle East powers.
Tehran and Riyadh agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies within two months, according to a statement issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia and China. “The agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs,” it said. (Int’l News Desk)