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Saudi Crown Prince accepts invitation to pay visit to Iran

Kuwait FM applauds Iranian counterpart’s visit to Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Iran’s foreign minister met Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Friday during his first visit since the Middle East rivals announced a surprise rapprochement, officials said. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who travelled to Riyadh on Thursday, held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, the Saudi foreign ministry announced, after extending a scheduled one-day visit.

The two reviewed relations between the countries, “future opportunities for cooperation… and ways to develop them, in addition to discussing developments in the situation on the regional and international arenas”, the foreign ministry posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Iran’s official IRNA news agency said the visit was the first time a senior Iranian official had met with Prince Mohammed, 37, who has ushered in a series of reforms in the conservative kingdom.

IRNA later reported that Iran extended an invitation for the Saudi crown prince to visit the Islamic republic and that Prince Mohammed accepted. In a statement posted on X, Amir-Abdollahian called the 90-minute meeting a “direct, frank, and productive conversation” that addressed bilateral relations, security and development. “The way to the success of the region is to strengthen dialogue and cooperation and increase development-oriented cooperation,” he said, according to a statement from Tehran’s foreign ministry.

Iran and Saudi broke off ties in 2016, but they agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a Chinese-brokered deal in March. The announcement sparked optimism as the two regional heavyweights have backed opposing sides in conflict zones across the Middle East for years, including in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s impoverished neighbor. On Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian said ties “are progressing in the right direction” as he appeared in front of the media with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

His visit would “be a prelude to the meeting of the heads of the two countries”, he said, without specifying when Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi would travel to Saudi Arabia at King Salman’s invitation. Iran’s top diplomat hailed economic and security cooperation between the two countries, but announced no new agreements. He was accompanied by Iran’s new ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alireza Enayati.

“We are sure that these meetings and cooperation will help the unity of the Islamic world,” Amir-Abdollahian added, proposing a “regional dialogue” without giving details. Since the March deal, Saudi Arabia has ramped up a push for peace in Yemen, holding direct talks with Houthi leaders in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and championed the return of key Iran ally Syria to the Arab League.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah applauded the visit by Amir-Abdollahian to Saudi Arabia and the meeting with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal. The visit reflects the two countries’ keenness on restoring normal bilateral relations and their commitment to preserve the region’s security and stability, Sheikh Salem said. He noted China’s role in mending fences between Tehran and Riyadh, with its recent hosting of bilateral talks that had led to the resumption of diplomatic relations on the basis of good neighborliness, non-intervention in other states’ domestic affairs, boosting relations and establishing cooperation. Sheikh Salem also indicated at the positive impact of such rapprochement on regional countries with respect to stability, peace and prosperity.— Agencies

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