Saudi Arabia and Iran will resume embassies in each other’s capitals “within days,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday, signaling a thaw in relations seven years after the two countries dismantled their operations.
Amirabdollahian, speaking at a news conference in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, did not provide exact dates for the reopening of the embassies, which closed in 2016.
According to an official Arabic translation, “During the last phone call between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Eid al-Fitr, we agreed to work in the coming days on the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi embassies in Tehran and Riyadh.”
The regional rivals agreed last month to restore diplomatic relations under a deal brokered by China.
Their relationship started deteriorating in 2015 following the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Yemen war, after the Iran-aligned Houthi movement toppled the Saudi-backed government and seized control of the capital Sanaa.
Tension between the countries has fueled conflicts across the region, including the Syrian civil war.
Amirabdollahian was speaking at the end of his visit to Lebanon where he met with Lebanese officials including Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The Iranian foreign minister confirmed President Ebrahim Raisi would visit Syria in “the near future” without providing details.
The visit would be the first by an Iranian president to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the country’s civil conflict broke out in 2011. Assad was able to turn the tide of the fight and retake control of much of his country with military and economic assistance from both Iran and Russia.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s National Security Adviser, attempted to frame Iran’s diplomatic outreach as a response to its failure to compete with Israeli military strikes on its assets in Syria and abroad.
“Iran is in distress,” he said on Israel’s Channel 12 television.