UN chief hails restoration of Iran-Saudi ties

May 19, 2023 - 21:23

TEHRAN- The agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reestablish diplomatic relationship after a seven-year break has been hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as a “turning point” that ushers in a new era of positive exchanges in the West Asian region.

The comments were made by Guterres to Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Iranian Foreign Minister, over the phone on Thursday night.

Tehran and Riyadh reached a Chinese-brokered agreement on March 10 to reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies following days of strenuous discussions held in Beijing. The agreement followed several rounds of talks mediated by Baghdad and Muscat.

On April 6, Amir Abdollahian met in Beijing with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud for the first time in seven years, emphasizing the need to implement the China-brokered accord.

Both parties have praised the detente as having the ability to reduce tensions in the region.

Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Tehran in January 2016 when Iranian demonstrators stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, enraged over the Saudi government’s execution of famous Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.

Guterres also mentioned a conference on Afghanistan that the UN organized in the Qatari capital of Doha in early May. He asserted that everyone who attended the two-day meeting agreed that Afghanistan needed to form an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups, fight terrorism, support and empower its economy, fight drug production and trafficking, and secure its borders.

Additionally, the UN chief complimented Iran once more for housing a tremendous number of Afghan refugees, highlighting the country’s need for international aid in this respect.

He also expressed hope that the Ukraine war would end as soon as possible, pointing to the Istanbul meeting of senior officials to extend a deal allowing safe export of Ukraine’s grain and agricultural fertilizers through the Black Sea.

A group of African heads of state recently developed a peace initiative that could help resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In addition, the UN secretary-general emphasized the need for a long-lasting cease-fire in Yemen and appreciated Tehran for playing a significant and positive role in the region.

For his part, Amir Abdollahian said that Iran has been sheltering millions of Afghan refugees and providing them with various services for decades.

He also praised the closed-door meeting on Afghanistan that took place in Qatar.

The Iranian foreign minister noted that managing such a large number of refugees needed help and attention from other countries.

The senior Iranian diplomat also voiced optimism for a speedy resolution to the Yemen conflict and ending blockade on the war-ravaged country.

Amir Abdollahian also emphasized Iran’s adamant opposition to the conflict in Ukraine while expressing hope that the parties involved would return to the path of negotiation, put a stop to the fighting, and create a lasting peace.

The Iranian foreign minister and the UN chief also discussed the status of talks to resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and lift sanctions as well as Tehran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve outstanding issues.

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