Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi accepts invitation to visit Saudi Arabia

Iranian leader set to embark on his first official visit to Riyadh

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is set for an official visit to Riyadh, one of his deputies said. AFP
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Iran has accepted an invitation for President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia, first vice president Mohammed Mokhber said on Tuesday.

It would be Mr Raisi's first official trip to the kingdom.

The move is seen as the latest reconciliation effort between the two states after a Chinese-brokered deal resulted in an agreement to resume diplomatic relations after years of hostility.

"Saudi Arabia's King Salman has invited the President, and there has been a positive response to this invitation, and hopefully good things will happen," Mr Mokhber was quoted by Iran's semi-official news agency Mehr as saying.

Co-operation and the improvement of relations with regional neighbours has been a priority of the Raisi administration, Mr Mokhber said.

It was not revealed when the trip would take place.

In 2016, Riyadh severed ties with Tehran after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran following the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in the kingdom. It was only one of many issues between the longstanding rivals.

Under the Beijing-brokered deal, Saudi Arabia and Iran are to reopen their embassies and consulates within the next two months.

Since April 2021, the two sides have held five rounds of negotiations in Baghdad.

Analysts predict that revived relations will reshape the region's geopolitics that have been dominated by conflict and turbulence for years.

Mohammad Jamshidi, a senior Iranian official, said on Twitter that Iran received an invitation to make a high-level visit to Saudi Arabia.

Mr Jamshidi said Mr Raisi had welcomed the move and "stressed Iran's readiness to expand co-operation".

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, are expected to meet before the end of Ramadan for their first official discussion on developing relations.

During the meeting, Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will begin arranging the exchange of ambassadors and discuss ways to strengthen the renewed relations, according to the kingdom's official news agency SPA.

The two states will reactivate a 2001 security co-operation agreement and 1998 deals on the economy, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth.

Updated: April 04, 2023, 1:36 PM