First Published: 2017-08-23

Saudi Arabia, Iran to exchange diplomatic visits
Planned visits indicate possible thaw in relations between regional rivals since they severed diplomatic ties last year.
Middle East Online

Iranian pilgrims wait at the Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran as they depart for annual hajj pilgrimage.

RIYADH - Iran and Saudi Arabia will exchange diplomatic visits soon, Tehran said on Wednesday, indicating a possible thaw in relations between the regional rivals since they severed diplomatic ties last year.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) that the visits could take place after the haj pilgrimage ends in the first week of September.

"The visas have been issued for both sides to make this trip," Zarif said, according to ISNA. "We are waiting for the final steps to be completed so diplomats from the two countries can inspect their embassies and consulates." Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and supporting opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in Jan. 2016 after a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric was executed, prompting Riyadh to close the embassy.

Saudi Arabia and several other Arab governments have severed ties with Qatar, citing its support of Iran as one of the main reasons.

Iran has blamed Saudi Arabia for being behind deadly twin attacks on June 7 in Tehran claimed by Islamic State. At least 18 people were killed and more than 40 wounded in the attacks, in which Riyadh has denied any involvement.

Thousands of Iranian pilgrims are currently undertaking the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

 

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria