China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal driving ‘wave of reconciliation’, says Wang


China’s top diplomat has said that a Chinese-mediated detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia was driving a “wave of reconciliation” in the Middle East and pledged to firmly support Tehran on “issues concerning core interests”.

Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, made the comments during a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

Wang expressed Beijing’s appreciation for Iran’s recent efforts to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia to Amir-Abdollahian, noting in particular his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah.

Additionally, Wang promised to “continue to support Middle Eastern countries in exploring a development path that suits their own national conditions, enhancing communication and dialogue, adhering to unity and self-improvement, and realizing good-neighborliness and friendship,” according to Xinhua.

The surprise detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, brokered by China in March, followed years of bitter rivalry that had destabilised several Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.

Officials in Tehran and Riyadh have said the two countries’ deteriorating relations with the United States was one of the main reasons for their shift in policy.

According to Iranian sources, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sees new contacts with Saudi Arabia as a means of ending the country’s political and economic isolation brought on by the US’s withdrawal from a historic agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia had, meanwhile, lost confidence in any US commitment to shared regional security concerns and wanted to bolster ties with China, which has retained good relations with Iran.

Since the detente, the two countries have moved towards reopening diplomatic missions in each others countries and Prince Mohammed has accepted an invitation from Amir-Abdollahian to visit Tehran, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Iran’s foreign minister, during his call with Wang on Sunday, “expressed sincere gratitude to China for the constructive role it played in promoting the normalisation of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia”.

He also briefed Wang on the latest progress on Iran’s talks with the US on the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

For his part, Wang called for “the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA” to resolve the nuclear issue, Xinhua said.

The Iran-US talks, mediated by the European Union, began in Vienna two years ago but remain deadlocked with no public sign of progress.


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