Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Bin Saudi Al Anzi (second from left) talks to an Iranian official in Tehran. Image Credit: Okaz

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Iran arrived Tuesday in the Islamic Republic, and his counterpart landed in Riyadh, cementing a restoration of ties between the nations after a seven-year rupture in ties.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies following a China-brokered deal announced in March.

Riyadh and Tehran severed ties in 2016 after Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran were attacked during protests over Riyadh’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr.

Saudi Arabia’s leadership recognises the “importance of strengthening ties, increasing engagement... and taking the (relationship) to broader horizons,” ambassador Abdullah Bin Saudi Al Anzi said upon his arrival in Tehran to take up his duties, according to a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement.

“The kingdom and Iran boast a lot of economic potential, natural resources and advantages that contribute to the consolidation of development, welfare, stability and security in the region to the joint benefit of both sisterly countries and people,” he added.

The Saudi news agency SPA also quoted Al Anzi as saying that ties between the two countries are based on a “strategic perspective” consolidating principles of good neighbourliness, understanding, constructive dialogue, respect and mutual trust.

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian made his first visit to Saudi Arabia since the rapprochement deal and met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The Iranian official also held talks with his Saudi counterpart Farhan bin Faisal, who had visited Tehran in June.

Also on Tuesday, Iran’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alireza Enayati, arrived in the capital Riyadh where he was received by foreign ministry officials and embassy staff, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Al Anzi was formerly Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Oman, while Enyati was previously Iran’s Kuwait envoy.

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran resumed operations last month. In June, Iran marked the reopening of its embassy in Riyadh with a flag-raising ceremony.

Last month Iran’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, preached unity and dialogue during his first visit to Saudi Arabia since the surprise rapprochement was announced, saying bilateral ties were “progressing in the right direction”.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in conflict zones across the Middle East for years.

Since the March deal, Saudi Arabia has restored ties with Iranian ally Syria and ramped up a push for peace in Yemen, where it has for years led a military coalition against the Iran-backed Huthi forces.
-- With inputs from Reuters