Analysis. Iran and Saudi Arabia to renew ties after seven-year rift

China brokering a deal between longtime Gulf rivals is ‘a broader sign of a changing global order’, analysts say.

China’s efforts in brokering a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been seen by analysts as broader signs of a “changing global order”.

During talks in Beijing on Friday, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months. The agreement also stipulated affirming “the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states”.

Saudi Arabia cut ties in January 2016 after demonstrators stormed its embassy in Tehran following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.

Tensions between the Sunni and Shia-led neighbours have since often been high.

Iranian state media posted images and video of Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, shaking hands with Saudi national security adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban, with Wang Yi, China’s most senior diplomat, standing in between.

China’s role as a mediator in resolving longstanding issues between the regional foes had not been made public prior to the announcement.

Wang reportedly said China will continue to play a constructive role in handling hotspot issues and demonstrate responsibility as a major nation. He added that as a “good-faith” and “reliable” mediator, China has fulfilled its duties as a host for dialogue.

‘Low risk, high reward for China’

The two Gulf countries severed ties in 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia Muslim scholar, triggering protests in Iran with protesters attacking its embassy in Tehran.

Previous attempts at reconciliation have been unsuccessful, but on Friday the two countries said they would reopen embassies within two months. They will also re-establish trade and security relations.

The US cautiously welcomed the announcement. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration supported « any effort to de-escalate tensions in the region ». But he added: « It really does remain to be seen if Iran is going to meet their obligations. »

UN chief Antonio Guterres thanked China for brokering the deal.

The secretary-general is ready to help efforts « to ensure durable peace and security in the Gulf region », his spokesman said.

Israel, which has called for maximum pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, has not commented.

World Opinions -Agencies

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