10/13/2021, 11.59
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Tehran and Riyadh ready to reopen consulates

The two countries are close to an agreement for the resumption of official relations. A sign of progressive detente after years of tensions, but obstacles and divisions remain, especially over Yemen. King Salman also calls for "tangible results" to rebuild a climate of "trust" between the two nations. 



Tehran (AsiaNews) - Iran and Saudi Arabia are close to an agreement for the resumption of official diplomatic relations between the two countries and the reopening of their respective consulates, in a sign of progressive détente after years of hostility and proxy conflicts.

According to an anonymous institutional source living in the Wahhabi kingdom  an agreement to put an end to the tensions of the recent past would be "imminent". 

"In principle," the source stressed to Afp, "they have reached an agreement to reopen their consulates... and I think the announcement of a normalization of relations could come within the next few weeks." In recent days, the same official authorities in Tehran had shown cautious optimism, stressing that the talks - which also include Yemen, one of the main elements of division - of the last period have taken "the right direction."

Tehran and Riyadh broke off relations in 2016, following the assault on the Saudi consulate in Iran, in response to the execution of the Shiite leader Nimr al-Nimr. The controversy triggered heavy repercussions at the regional level, particularly the economic, diplomatic and commercial isolation of Qatar considered too close to Tehran.

The two powers are on opposite sides in many issues, from  Yemen  to Syria. However, in April, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (Mbs) said he wanted good relations with Tehran. A change also determined by the change of administration in Washington, with the passage from the "maximum pressure" of Donald Trump, to the attempt of Joe Biden to revive the nuclear agreement.

The last round of talks between the two countries took place on September 21 and others are scheduled "shortly". Tehran would like to reopen the respective consulates in the Iranian city of Mashhad and in the Saudi city of Jeddah, as a goodwill gesture. The meetings take place in a relaxed atmosphere, although elements of friction remain when going into details.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on October 8 that "several agreements" had been reached; Saudi counterpart Faisal Bin Farhan al-Saud spoke of meetings in the "exploratory phase," but the hope is to "resolve" the elements of conflict, primarily Yemen.

Last month, Saudi King Salman expressed hope that talks with Iran would "lead to tangible results to build trust" and revive bilateral cooperation. He went on to call on Tehran to cease "all forms of support" for armed groups in the region, with a particular reference to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have stepped up missile and drone attacks against the Wahhabi kingdom.

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