It was the first visit by a Saudi official to Tehran in seven years.
Tehran, Iran – Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amiraptollahian received his Saudi counterpart at the Foreign Ministry ahead of bilateral talks and a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
The Saudi minister said that he will also meet the President of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, who is finishing his tour of Latin America.
During the press conference, the two diplomats hailed the re-establishment of diplomatic ties, which they said was crucial to improving security across the region.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has never equated security with militarism, and views security as a comprehensive concept that includes political, economic, cultural, trade and social dimensions between all countries of the region,” said Amirabtullahian.
The Iranian foreign minister added that he discussed with his counterpart a wide range of issues, including trade relations and joint investments, as well as accommodating Saudi tourists and pilgrims interested in visiting Iran.
For his part, bin Farhan said “mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of both countries and commitment to the United Nations Charter” will be at the core of bilateral relations with an eye on safeguarding the interests of both countries. .
“I would like to highlight the discussions between the two countries on ensuring maritime security and reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
China Brokerage Agreement
Amiraptolahian and Bin Farhan last met in South Africa in early June on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, an economic bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
It was the first visit by a Saudi official to Iran since 2016, when Riyadh severed diplomatic ties after Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric and attacked its embassy in Tehran and Mashhad.
As part of a China-brokered deal signed in Beijing on March 10, Tehran and Riyadh agreed to reopen their embassies within two months, but with diplomatic ties restored, reopening embassy buildings has been more challenging.
Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh on June 6, followed by its consulate in Jeddah and its mission to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) a day later.
Tehran has reportedly chosen Alireza Enayati, a former ambassador to Kuwait and deputy foreign ministry official for regional affairs, as its ambassador to the kingdom. But Enayati did not attend the reopening ceremony, and Iran has not confirmed that he has begun work at the embassy in Riyadh.
The Iranian embassy was opened by Deputy Foreign Minister for Diplomatic Affairs Alireza Bigdeli, who said “we are witnessing a new chapter in bilateral and regional relations”.
Meanwhile, it is unclear when the Saudi embassy will reopen. Amirabtullahian had previously said that Saudi Arabia had chosen an ambassador to Tehran, but the government has yet to publicly confirm his identity.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the Saudi group has been operating in a luxury hotel in the Iranian capital for several weeks.
The Saudi foreign minister’s visit to Tehran comes a week after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Riyadh for high-level talks.
Shortly thereafter, it was confirmed that Iraq was able to repay a substantial $2.7 billion debt owed to Iran by importing Iraqi natural gas.
The U.S. withheld money based on unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018. Washington has said the funds can only be used for “humanitarian and other unauthorized transactions”.
Part of the money was earmarked for the expenses of Iranian pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, while 80 million euros ($87m) was reportedly sent to the Iranian mission at the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank.
Meanwhile, media reports indicate that Iran and the US are holding secret talks in Oman aimed at reducing tensions, which could lead to decisions on Tehran’s nuclear program, prisoner exchanges and the release of frozen Iranian funds.
At the same time, the deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia has begun to ease tensions across the region, including in Yemen, which has backed opposing sides in a devastating war.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Tehran, was welcomed back into the Arab League last month. Saudi Arabia, along with many other Arab countries, has thrown its weight behind the opposition in Syria.