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Praising Iran-Saudi Pact, China Says Agreement Will Help Rid Region of ‘External Interference’

© Photo : Middle East
Middle East - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.03.2023
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia moved to restore diplomatic relations Friday in a landmark agreement brokered by China, catching Washington off guard. The traditional regional rivals signed the deal after over seven years without ties.
China’s Foreign Ministry cast shade on Washington in a statement on the Iran-Saudi diplomatic agreement signed in Beijing, saying the deal would reduce the “interference” of outside powers in the region's affairs.
“With the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, the talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing produced major outcomes…Their dialogue and the agreement set a good example of how countries in the region can resolve disputes and differences and achieve good neighborliness and friendship through dialogue and consultation. This will help regional countries to get rid of external interference and take the future into their own hands,” the Ministry said in a statement Saturday.
Applauding the two countries’ commitment to adhering to the United Nations Charter and avoid meddling in one another’s affairs, Beijing indicated that such a commitment was “in line with the trend of the times,” and that China “applauds this and congratulates both sides.”
The Foreign Ministry did not mention the US by name, reiterating that the People’s Republic is opposed to geopolitical competition in the Middle East, and saying China “has no intention to and will not seek to fill a so-called vacuum or put up exclusive blocs” in the region.
Beijing’s emphasis on regional countries taking “the future into their own hands” echoes the policy pursued by Iran over the years, with Tehran touting a series of mechanisms for reconstructing the region’s security architecture, including through the so-called ‘Hormuz Peace Initiative’. The latter proposes establishing joint security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman by regional countries, without the involvement of any “foreign forces,” including the United States or its allies.
In this photo released by Nournews, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, right, China's most senior diplomat Wang Yi, center, and Saudi Arabia's National Security Adviser Musaad bin Mohammed al-Aiban looks on during an agreement signing ceremony between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies after seven years of tensions between the Mideast rivals, in Beijing, China, Friday, March 10, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.03.2023
UAE Foreign Minister Calls Restoration of Iran-Saudi Relations Important for Middle East
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been major rivals for decades owing to both religious considerations (the two countries informally consider themselves leaders of the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam, respectively) and geopolitical considerations. Riyadh’s traditionally close economic and security ties to the United States did not help matters in the past, with Tehran seeing the Saudis as one of Washington’s key regional allies alongside Israel. The neighbors across the Gulf broke off diplomatic relations completely in 2016 after the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric, and consequent protests outside Saudi diplomatic offices in Iran.
By 2019, the two countries had quietly resumed talks on normalizing relations, with Iraqi-brokered negotiations broken off in early 2020 after a US drone strike killed Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani during a peace mission in Baghdad.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks about Iran at a security briefing for the foreign press at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Lapid called on U.S. President Joe Biden and Western powers to call off an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, saying an agreement would fail to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and reward it with billions of dollars to fund Israel's enemies. Israel's caretaker prime minister used stark language on Wednesday in his criticism of the expected agreement. (Debbie Hill/Pool via AP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.03.2023
‘Delusional’: Israeli Leaders Hit Out at Each Other After Iran, Saudi Arabia Normalize Ties
The push toward Iranian-Saudi rapprochement accelerated in 2021 as the Biden administration moved to ‘recalibrate’ its ties with the Kingdom, including by putting some weapons sales and intelligence support on hold amid the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. Saudi officials responded by floating a Yemen peace proposal, and expressing hopes that the Kingdom could “have a good and distinguished relationship” with its Iranian neighbors.
Saudi-US relations sunk to a new low last spring, with Riyadh reportedly refusing to return Biden’s phone calls after the latter called hoping to get the Kingdom to ramp up oil production in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. Biden’s trip to the region for a summit meeting in Jeddah last summer and fist-bumping with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman apparently failed to convince Riyadh to change course on oil output. Months later, Riyadh signed a strategic partnership agreement with Beijing and expressed interest in joining the BRICS group, laying the groundwork for Friday’s deal with Iran (which penned a similar deal with China and also applied to join BRICS).
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at an online BRICS foreign ministers-level event - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.02.2023
Number of States Seeking to Join BRICS and SCO Surges to 20, Lavrov Says
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