TEHRAN : Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says its ambassador to Saudi Arabia will soon depart for Riyadh to lead Tehran’s diplomatic mission that was reopened in early June after seven years.
Iran’s new envoy to the kingdom, Alireza Enayati, met Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Saturday and presented his final report before leaving for Riyadh, according to the ministry.
Breaking a seven-year diplomatic rift, Tehran officially reopened its embassy in Riyadh in June, followed by its consulate in Jeddah and its representative office with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The two countries had severed diplomatic relations in 2016 after demonstrators stormed Saudi missions in Iran following the Sunni-majority kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shia religious leader.
But they agreed to restore relations in a deal signed in Beijing in March that was brokered by China following five rounds of direct talks hosted by Iraq and mediation and assistance from Oman.
Enayati, a former envoy to Kuwait and a Foreign Ministry deputy for regional affairs, had recently travelled to Riyadh to help prepare the embassy.
He hosted Amirabdollahian at the embassy in mid-August, when the top diplomat had travelled to the kingdom to hold meetings with his counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
Amirabdollahian’s visit to the kingdom came after he hosted his Saudi counterpart in Tehran in mid-June, where they both touted the re-establishment of relations.
Iran has said President Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation to make a historic visit to Saudi Arabia soon, but no date has been set yet.
In an interview this week with the local Shargh newspaper, Enayati said bilateral relations are progressing at a steady pace.
He did not directly comment when asked about Saudi Arabia’s ongoing talks to potentially normalise relations with Iran’s arch foe Israel but said Tehran and Riyadh were eyeing an expansion of ties in many areas, especially on economic cooperation and investment.
“We are serious, and we feel that Saudi Arabia is also serious in developing ties and deepening relations,” Enayati said.
“We are now seeing new conditions where the countries of the region are no longer just located on either side of the … Gulf but are playing a role in a joint effort, which could see security find a new definition and move away from its classical definition which was based on militarism.”
The Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad are also believed to have been reopened, with Abdullah bin Saud al-Anzi, the country’s ambassador to Oman, reportedly selected as the new envoy to Tehran, but officials have not confirmed the details.