March 10 (UPI) — Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to resume relations between the two countries in a deal brokered by China on Friday.
A joint statement by the countries said that Iran, which has supported Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States, have agreed to resume diplomatic relations within two months and reopen embassies and agencies in both countries.
The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia will now hold talks to facilitate the ambassadors. The effort comes after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited China, followed by its Supreme National Security Council leader Ali Shamkhani traveling to Beijing on Monday for talks with the Saudis.
The countries thanked China for hosting the talks and “the efforts it placed toward its success.” The two also identified Iraq and Oman as countries that hosted negotiation talks.
While the statement said the talks were created to “settle issues between Tehran and Riyadh,” the fate of fighting in Yemen remained up in the air. For years, Saudi Arabia has backed the Yemeni government in the civil war while Iran has backed the rival Houthi rebels in the conflict, resulting in a proxy war between the two countries.
The Yemen civil war has created a dire humanitarian crisis there with more than 150,000 killed since 2015. It also may have put an end to Israeli efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. Israel views Iran as a foe that wants to end its existence. The news comes at a time when the United States hit Iran with a new round of sanctions for providing Russia with drones used to attack Ukraine.
Tensions for years have boiled between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a majority Sunni Muslim country, controlled by Shia Muslims, as they seek influence in the region.