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    Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh with the 'Kingdom Tower'

    Saudis Reportedly Admit First Iranian Diplomat Since Relations Severed in 2016

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    The kingdom has reportedly agreed to admit the head of Iran's so-called Saudi Arabian Interests Section and its staff. Relations between two countries, which have remained tense, were broken off after protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran because of the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in the Sunni state.

    The official Iranian news agency IRNA, citing an informed diplomatic source, has reported that Saudi Arabia had agreed to issue a visa to the chief and staffers of Iran's interests section, who are slated to take on diplomatic functions.

    This office will allegedly operate in the Swiss mission, which has acted as a diplomatic channel between the two rival states, as they severed their relations.

     "Observers saw this… as a positive diplomatic step in Tehran-Riyadh relations," the media claimed.

    The Saudi officials haven’t yet commented on the report.

    The spokesman to the Iranian Foreign Ministry Bahram Qasemi recently indicated that there had been a “breakthrough” in Riyadh-Tehran relations, predicting an opening for the office for the protection of interests, although a request for visas was still being processed.

    "Up until two weeks ago, no visa had been issued for the names that we had submitted a long time ago," he said, as cited by PANA news agency.

    Mostly-Sunni Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with its long-time regional rival, Shiite Iran, in 2016 following attack on its Embassy in Teheran by protesters, outraged by the execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, along with 42 other people convicted of terrorism by the kingdom.

    In December 2017, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani named two conditions for restoring “good relations” between the two countries: Riyadh should "stop the misguided friendship with Israel and the inhumane bombardment of Yemen."

    READ MORE: Under Crown Prince’s Rule, Saudi-US-Israel United by Anti-Iran Interests

    Tensions between the two Muslim countries have been growing over the recent years as they compete for dominance in the region, supporting opposite sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria. The relations between Riyadh and Tehran have further deteriorated following the Yemeni Houthi rebels’ missile launches targeting the kingdom, with the latter blaming the Islamic Republic for providing the insurgents with weapons. Iranian authorities have consistently denied the allegations.

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    Tags:
    international affairs, Sunnis, Shiite, diplomacy, Iran, Middle East, Riyadh, Tehran, Saudi Arabia
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