Tehran-Riyadh Strong Ties Gateway for Closer Regional Cooperation

President Ebrahim Raisi’s prospective trip to Saudi Arabia will have noticeable effects on bilateral relations, as well as impacts at regional and extra-regional levels, the diplomat said
Tehran-Riyadh Strong Ties Gateway for Closer Regional Cooperation
Tehran-Riyadh Strong Ties Gateway for Closer Regional Cooperation

The resumption and expansion of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would open a large gateway for closer cooperation between regional countries, a senior Iranian diplomat said. 
“Definitely, the expansion of relations between Tehran and Riyadh will play an effective role for the future of the region, as well as developing the policy of neighborliness,” Alireza Enayati, director-general for Persian Gulf affairs at the foreign ministry, said in an exclusive interview with ISNA. 
He added that the policy of strengthening relations among neighboring countries has been a priority of the present administration which has now been established across the region, as evidenced by recent developments. 
In line with this policy, the Islamic Republic exchanged ambassadors and upgraded its ties with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait last year, and normalization with Saudi Arabia was a new link in this chain, according to the diplomat. 
The reconciliation has improved the prospects of closer economic cooperation among all Persian Gulf states, according to Enayati. 
“Our region has capabilities in the energy, human resources and transit sectors among others, which can pave the way for an economic boom in the future, provided that regional countries cooperate,” he said. 
Highlighting the Islamic Republic’s emphasis on regional countries’ responsibility to provide their own security from within, Enayati hoped that Tehran-Riyadh relations would also help realize this goal. 
“We believe that the time has come for foreign military forces in the region to return to their homes,” he said.
The diplomat, however, stressed that security in the eyes of the Islamic Republic is not ensured through military power alone, but would be achieved as an outcome of cooperation between regional countries in various sectors. 



OIC Activities  

Enayati said restored relations between the region’s two key players would also help revitalize the operations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, whose headquarters is in the Saudi city of Jeddah. 
“We will work at full potential in our permanent office of the OIC in Jeddah,” he said. 
Iran-Saudi cooperation on important issues of the Muslim world, including the issue of Palestine, would improve the quality and effectiveness of the OIC’s activities, he added. 
Iran’s office of OIC was practically shut down after the two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2016, when a group of angry Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy in protest to the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric. 
The reopening of the office was among the topics of discussion in Iraqi-mediated negotiations, as well as talks brokered by China in its capital Beijing that resulted in a normalization agreement.
As agreed in the deal, the two neighbors are now in the process of officially opening their embassies and consular offices again. 
After agreeing to resume ties, the Saudi King invited President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Riyadh in a letter delivered through the Swiss embassy. 
Enayati said the president’s visit is the most important event on the agenda of bilateral ties. 
“Raisi’s trip to Saudi Arabia will have noticeable effects on bilateral relations, as well as impacts at regional and extra-regional levels,” he said. “This trip would speed up [the resumption of] relations between Tehran and Riyadh.” 
The prospective visit would definitely have various important dimensions, such as political, economic and cultural, according to the diplomat. 
“Since relations between the two countries has started again, we have so many subjects for discussion and consultation with Saudi Arabia,” he said. 
Asked about scheduled flights between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Enayati said their resumption is expected to be pursued after this year’s Hajj season (25-30 June), but pilgrims would be able to travel to Mecca by specific flights organized for the purpose like previous years. 
Regarding flights, the two countries will likely act based on the air transport agreement that they earlier had, he said. 
“We hope that … relations between the peoples of the two states would be accelerated with the re-establishment of these flights.” 

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