Iran reopened its diplomatic missions in Riyadh on Tuesday evening, to resume consulate services in Jeddah on Wednesday, restoring diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia after a seven-year rift.

The step comes three months after Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume bilateral relations following a Chinese-brokered deal in March.

The reopening of the embassy on Tuesday was attended by two officials from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry alongside Tehran’s new ambassador to Riyadh and an official from Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The national anthems of Saudi Arabia and Iran were played, as the flags of both were hoisted on embassy grounds.

Iranian Expatriates Affairs chief Alireza Bigdeli also gave a short speech from inside the embassy, while Iran's charges d'affaires Hassan Zarangar also attended the opening.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry representative said Iran's embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah have already started their activities to facilitate the affairs of Hajj pilgrims who are set to arrive in Jeddah before making their way to Makkah this month.

“Iran’s embassy in Riyadh, our consulate general in Jeddah and our office to the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation will be officially reopened on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Tehran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said last week.

Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on the sidelines of the Brics Friends Ministerial Meeting in Cape Town.

Tension between the two countries has decreased in the months since the agreement was signed.

Following the signing, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran released a joint statement stating that Tehran and Riyadh had agreed to re-establish ties and resume diplomatic relations.

Ties were severed in 2016 after the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in the north-west Iranian city of Mashhad were attacked by protesters.

Tehran last month appointed Alireza Enayati as its ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Mr Enayati was previously assistant foreign minister and had served as Iran's ambassador to Kuwait.

Since the China-brokered deal in April, both countries have agreed to reopen embassies and consulates and reinstate economic agreements signed more than 20 years ago.

Iran and Saudi Arabia also agreed to resume flights and bilateral visits of official and private sector delegations, in addition to issuing visas for citizens.

“We have never considered Saudi Arabia as our enemy,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said last month.

Iran’s Finance Minister Ehsan Khandozi visited Saudi Arabia last month, marking the first visit by an Iranian official to the kingdom since both countries agreed to resume diplomatic relations. Iran named its ambassador to the kingdom more than seven years after the two powerhouses severed ties.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian (2nd-L) meeting his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan (2nd-R) in Cape Town. AFP

Saudi Arabia recently hosted the Arab League summit which brought Syria back into the diplomatic fold, garnering support from regional countries, with Riyadh saying it was aiming to bolster Arab ties.

After the reopening of the embassies in Riyadh and Tehran, analysts who have been following the thaw in ties between the two countries believe a meeting between Mr Raisi, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to take place after the two-month deadline Riyadh and Tehran set to reopen diplomatic missions.

“There has been a consensus from Iran on their relationship with the GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, which would be a crown jewel in that clout for them," Ellie Geranmayeh, deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told The National.

Updated: June 06, 2023, 4:47 PM

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