Illustration by Sidra Dahhan

Iran and Saudi Arabia restore relations in China-backed agreement

After almost seven years of no diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia and Iran foreign ministers met on April 6 to work on how to restore diplomatic relations in a Chinese-brokered agreement.

Apr 9, 2023

Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers met in Beijing on Thursday for the first time in seven years to re-establish diplomatic relations.
In 2016, Riyadh severed its ties with Iran following the Iranian government permitting Saudi Arabia's diplomatic facilities in Tehran and Mashhad. In response to the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi government, Iran and Saudi Arabia have also been engaging in proxy wars throughout the years via civil wars in Yemen and Syria.
However, on Mar. 10, the two countries issued a joint statement announcing plans to re-establish ties. Saudi Arabia and Iran thanked China for sponsorship of the talks leading to the agreement.
China is the biggest importer of Iranian oil and has significant economic interests in the country. It is also the biggest trade partner of Saudi Arabia.
The agreements deal with some of the most sensitive issues between the two countries. Iran has reportedly asked to reduce the critical news related to Iranian affairs in Iran International, a Farsi-language satellite news channel funded by Saudi business people. However, Iran International declares itself to be an independent news agency. The head of Iran’s intelligence agency has called the news channel a terrorist organization. Iran has also agreed to stop encouraging cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels.
Negotiations and talks between the two countries had started since the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s second term in office and finally concluded with China’s mediation.
Based on the agreement that the two countries made in China last month, it was decided that both Iran and Saudi Arabia will reopen their diplomatic facilities within the next two months.
Azadeh writes under a pseudonym, for personal safety concerns. Email them at
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