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Saudi foreign ministry says delegation arrives in Iran

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A Saudi Arabian diplomatic delegation has arrived in Tehran to discuss the reopening of its diplomatic missions after a seven-year absence, Riyadh’s foreign ministry has said.

The visit followed a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries in China this week after they agreed last month to restore diplomatic ties.

Saturday’s visit is part of “implementing the tripartite agreement” reached on March 10 between the two regional powers, brokered by China, to restore relations ruptured in 2016, the Saudi foreign ministry said, as reported by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

A Saudi “technical delegation” met Iran’s chief of protocol at the foreign ministry in Tehran, SPA reported.

The two countries severed ties in 2016 after protesters in Iran attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia leader.

The rapprochement between mainly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Shiite-majority Iran, strongly at odds with Western governments over its nuclear activities, has the potential to reshape relations across a region characterised by turbulence for decades.

Under last month’s agreement, the two countries are to reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has been invited by Saudi King Salman to Riyadh, a trip planned to take place after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Iran and Saudi Arabia vie for influence in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

They also support rival sides in several conflict zones across the region, including in Yemen, where Houthi rebels are aligned with Tehran and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government.

In a separate development on Saturday, mediators from Oman arrived in the Yemeni capital Sanaa to discuss a new truce between the Houthi rebels and Saudi Arabia, the AFP news agency reported, citing an airport source.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have gained momentum since the Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iran deal to restore relations.

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