Monday, July 22, 2024

Tehran says Saudi Arabia has invited Iranian President Raisi to visit


  • Written by Kathryn Armstrong
  • BBC News

photo caption,

President Raisi (pictured) is a hardline conservative close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The invitation is said to have come in a message from King Salman, but the Saudis have yet to confirm it.

Enmity between the two countries has dominated the history of the modern Middle East.

China mediated the thaw, which could reshape the geopolitics of the region.

Senior Iranian official Mohammad Jamshidi tweeted about the invitation to visit the Saudi capital, Riyadh, saying Raisi welcomed it and “stressed Iran’s readiness to expand cooperation.”

On the other hand, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told reporters that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting at the foreign minister level, and that three possible locations had been proposed.

He did not name the locations, nor did he say when the meeting would take place.

The BBC’s Middle East editor, Sebastian Asher, says the recent improvement in bilateral relations, which came unexpectedly after days of Chinese-brokered talks, appears to be building serious momentum.

Both announced that they would reopen embassies within two months and restore trade and security relations.

This development has been cautiously welcomed by many, including the United States and the United Nations, after previous attempts failed.

Saudi Arabia severed ties in January 2016 after protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran.

Amir Abdollahian also said Iran hopes to take steps to improve relations with Bahrain, a close Saudi ally that came after Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.

“We hope to remove some obstacles between Iran and Bahrain, and we will take basic steps to reopen the two embassies,” he said.

Bahrain did not respond to the statements, but earlier welcomed the Iranian-Saudi agreement to restore diplomatic relations.

Iran has also expressed willingness to resume or improve relations with its other Arab regional rivals, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.