Saudi Arabia and Iran will establish embassies in each other’s capital cities “within days,” as their long-standing animosity toward one another in the region is thawing, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
Amirabdollahian, speaking at a press conference in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, omitted to provide particular dates for the reopening of the embassies. In March, the nations reached a reconciliation agreement.
The Iranian and Saudi embassies in the respective countries have been closed since 2016. The relationship started deteriorating in 2015 following the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemen war, after the Iran-aligned Houthi movement toppled the Saudi-backed government and seized control of the capital Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia accused Iran of providing weapons to the Houthis who attacked Saudi cities with armed drones and ballistic missiles. In 2019, Riyadh accused Tehran of being responsible for an attack targeting Aramco oil facilities, which resulted in stopping half of its oil production.
Iran denied those accusations.
The tension between the two regional rivals has fueled conflicts across the region, including the Syrian civil war.
Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed last month to end their diplomatic raw and restore diplomatic missions under a deal brokered by China.
“During the last phone call between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Eid al-Fitr, we agreed to work in the next coming days on the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi embassies in Tehran and Riyadh,” Amirabdollahian said, according to the official Arabic translation.
Amirabdollahian was speaking at the end of his visit to Lebanon in which he met with Lebanese officials including Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
When asked about a visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Damascus, Amirabdollahian confirmed it, saying there was a “program” put in place for “the near future” without indicating a specific timeframe.
The visit will be the first by an Iranian president to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since war broke out in Syria in 2011. With military help and economic support from both Iran and Russia, Assad was able to turn the tide of the conflict and regain control of most of his country.