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Iran names ambassador to S.Arabia after 7-year gap

By AFP - May 25,2023 - Last updated at May 25,2023


TEHRAN/ MUSCAT — Iran has named an ambassador to Saudi Arabia, state media reported on Wednesday, sealing a thaw in relations more than seven years after the regional rivals severed ties.

The new envoy, Alireza Enayati, previously served as Iran's ambassador to Kuwait, assistant to the foreign minister and director general of Gulf affairs at the foreign ministry, the English-language Iran Daily said.

There was no immediate confirmation of his appointment from the foreign ministry of the Islamic republic.

The Middle East heavyweights, after years of discord, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in China on March 10.

Saudi Arabia had severed relations with Iran in 2016, after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in the second city of Mashhad were attacked during protests over the kingdom's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The two governments held several rounds of dialogue in Iraq and Oman before signing the reconciliation agreement.

They had backed opposing sides in conflict zones across the Middle East for years before mending fences.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition in support of the internationally recognised government, while Iran backed the Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and large areas of the north.

Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq will embark on a two-day visit to Iran this week, Omani state media said on Wednesday.

The visit which will kick off on Sunday follows a Chinese-brokered rapprochement deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran announced in March.

“Sultan Haitham bin Tariq will go on an official two-day visit to Iran... in response to an invitation from the Iranian president,” the official Oman News Agency said.

“The visit will also touch on means of promoting cooperation between Oman and Iran in different spheres.”

The visit comes a year after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Muscat, a trip that saw the two countries sign a string of trade deals.

Oman has close ties with Iran and played a mediating role between Tehran and Washington in the build-up to a nuclear deal reached in 2015.

Stop-start talks began in April last year to restore the deal, after the US unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to roll back its commitments.

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