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Saudi Arabia, Iran to reopen embassies ‘within days’: Minister

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Saudi Arabia and Iran have planned to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals “within days”, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said in a sign of warming relations after the two countries closed their missions seven years ago.

Speaking at a news conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian did not give specific dates for the reopening of the embassies, which closed in 2016. The two countries reached an agreement in China earlier last month to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions.

“During the last phone call between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Eid al-Fitr, we agreed to work in the next coming days on the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi embassies in Tehran and Riyadh,” Amir-Abdollahian said, according to an official Arabic translation.

The relationship started deteriorating in 2015 following the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Yemen war after the Iran-aligned Houthi movement toppled the Riyadh-backed government and seized control of the capital Sanaa.

Tensions between the countries has led to conflicts across the region, including the Syrian civil war.

Amir-Abdollahian 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 war broke out in Syria in 2011. With military help and economic support from Iran and Russia, Assad was able to turn the tide of the conflict and regain control of most of his country.

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