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Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China said in a joint statement on Friday, following a week of Saudi-Iranian talks in Beijing.
“The three countries announce that an agreement has been reached between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, that includes an agreement to resume diplomatic relations between them and re-open their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months, and the agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs of states,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The statement carried by the Saudi agency also reads that “The three countries expressed their keenness to exert all efforts towards enhancing regional and international peace and security.”
The two regional powers in the Middle East, whose strained relations have exacerbated conflicts in Yemen and Syria, also agreed after the Beijing talks that the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers will meet to implement the agreements, arrange for the return of the ambassadors, and discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations, the statement said.
After several days of intensive negotiations between Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), and Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaid Al Aiban in Beijing, “an agreement was reached on Friday aimed at resuming relations between the two countries,” Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
The rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran has shaped regional politics in the Middle East in recent years and decades.
Both countries are members of OPEC and are some of its major oil producers, although Iran’s output has declined since 2018 when then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the so-called Iranian nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on the Iranian oil industry and exports. Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, also leads the OPEC+ agreement with Russia on oil production quotas. Iran is exempted from quotas because of the sanctions against it.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com
1- It will put an end to the United States’ playing both countries against each other and create an environment of trust between the two regional powers of the Gulf.
2- It will reduce tension between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries thus improving security in the region.
3- It will pave the way for an end to the war in Yemen probably ending the Yemeni rebels, the Houthis, targeting Saudi oil installations.
4- It will strengthen OPEC+ and make it easier for it to take tough decisions when both Saudi Arabia and Iran are reading from the same hymn book.
5- It could also bring the civil war in Syria to its final conclusion with both Iran and Saudi Arabia exerting pressure on Turkey to reach some accommodation with the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
It is of particular geopolitical significance that the agreement was reached in Beijing with assistance from China thus signalling its rising influence in the Gulf region and also indicating a further distancing of Saudi Arabia from the United States.
In a nutshell, it amounts to cocking a snook at the United States.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert