Iran FM on first Saudi visit since ties restored: state media


TEHRAN: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is expected Thursday in Riyadh, his first official Saudi trip since a landmark rapprochement in March, state media reported.

The one-day visit “is focusing on bilateral ties, regional and international issues”, said IRIB state broadcaster.

It reported early Thursday that Amir-Abdollahian “will leave Tehran for Riyadh in a few hours”.

Iran and Saudi Arabia had severed ties in 2016 after Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic republic were attacked during protests over Riyadh’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

A Chinese-brokered deal announced in March saw the long-time rivals agreeing to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies.

In June, Prince Faisal bin Farhan became the first Saudi foreign minister to travel to Iran since 2006.

Earlier that month Iran had reopened its embassy in Riyadh with a flag-raising ceremony.

And in another first since bilateral ties were restored, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday that military officials from both countries met in Moscow on the sidelines of a security conference.

Amir-Abdollahian has said this week that Iran’s news ambassador to Saudi, Alireza Enayati, “will accompany” on Thursday’s visit to “officially start his mission”.

On August 9, Iran said the Saudi embassy in Tehran had begun operations but Riyadh has yet confirm.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in conflicts across the Middle East for years.

Iran has in recent months been at odds with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait over a disputed gas field.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait claim “sole ownership” to the field — known as Arash in Iran and Dorra in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — with Tehran warning it would “pursue its right” to the offshore zone if negotiations