Iran and Saudi Arabia will soon exchange diplomatic visits, Tehran said, in a possible sign of tensions easing after the archrivals cut ties last year.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told local media the visits would take place after this year’s hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is due to start at the beginning of September.
“Visas have been delivered for the two sides. The final steps need to be completed so our diplomats can go inspect our embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia and for Saudi diplomats to come inspect their embassy and consulate,” Zarif told news agency ISNA.
It would be the first exchange of diplomats between the two countries since they cut ties in January 2016, after Iranians stormed Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
There have been signs of a thaw in relations in recent months, including an agreement to allow Iranians to participate in this year’s hajj, a pilgrimage that Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to do so.
Iranians were unable to attend the hajj last year after talks on security and logistics fell apart.
Relations between Tehran and Riyadh have been at their worst in years, with the countries trading frequent accusations of meddling and supporting different sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Zarif urged Riyadh to reconsider its foreign policy.
“Saudi Arabia’s behaviour goes against its own interests. We want security and stability throughout the region and insist on the need to fight against the dangers that threaten us all,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia has not benefitted from two years of war and horrific acts against the Yemeni people, on the contrary,” he said. “It’s the same in Syria or in Bahrain. We hope they will choose another path.”