The ‘surprising’ agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic relations has left the US deeply concerned. It is also a reflection of China’s growing diplomatic popularity and success in the Gulf states.
The Chinese-brokered restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two longtime Gulf rivals, on Friday is sure to be deeply unsettling in Washington, which has long had deep U.S. influence in the region.
The agreement was announced just hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping took office for a record third term. It is being called a major diplomatic success of China and Xi Jinping. Moreover, this development has forced the US to think a lot about Tehran’s nuclear program and the possibility of a ceasefire in Yemen.
The talks between the officials of Iran and Saudi Arabia, two rival countries in the Middle East, have been going on quietly for four days in Beijing. White House spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that while Washington was not directly involved, Saudi Arabia had informed US officials about the talks with Iran.
The US tried to downplay this important Chinese diplomatic achievement. John Kirby said the U.S. believes that internal and external pressures, including Saudi Arabia’s actions against attacks by Iran and its proxies, have forced Tehran to finally come to the negotiating table.
But Jeffrey Feltman, a former top U.S. and UN diplomat, said the most important aspect of the deal was China’s role in toying with embassies after six years. It should be noted that on the one hand, differences between the US and China on issues such as trade and espionage are increasing, on the other hand, both are constantly trying to expand their sphere of influence on different countries of the world.
The restoration of diplomatic relations is widely welcomed
The restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been welcomed by Arab countries and other countries of the world. Iraq welcomed the ‘opening of a new chapter’ between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In a statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the agreement was described as a positive step. Oman welcomed the tripartite statement on the restoration of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran. The Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement that it hoped the agreement would “contribute to the promotion of security and peace.”
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office of Pakistan, it has been said that Pakistan welcomes the restoration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran with the facilitation of China. “Pakistan is confident that this important diplomatic development will contribute to peace and stability in the region and beyond,” the statement added.
The United States welcomed the restoration of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but at the same time, Washington expressed doubts that “Iran will fulfill its promises,” said a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. “In general, we welcome any effort to help end the war in Yemen and reduce tensions in the Middle East.”
What agreement was reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia?
According to a statement published on Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA, Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed on best-neighborly relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran with the facilitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Saudi Arabia’s National Security Adviser Mosaad bin Muhammad Al-Aiban and Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani were involved in the talks.
The statement said that the two countries also agreed that the process of opening diplomatic relations and embassies between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be completed within two months. The two countries have also agreed to restore the agreements reached in 2001 and 1998 on security cooperation, trade, economy, technology, science, culture, sports and youth affairs.
The statement added that the agreement also agreed to respect mutual sovereignty between the two countries and non-interference in the internal affairs of the other country. A meeting was also agreed between the foreign ministers of the two countries for the implementation of this agreement, while arrangements will also be made for the increase of mutual relations and the return of diplomats. The declaration praised and thanked China for its continued positive role.
China’s growing role
Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat involved in the talks, said that China will continue to play a constructive role in properly dealing with the serious and tense problems facing the world in accordance with the wishes of all countries. He said the talks were “very welcome news” for the troubled world at the moment.
Daniel Russell, the top US diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, says that China’s involvement as a facilitator in the deal has “very important implications” for Washington.
Russell said that if China is not a party to an issue, it generally does not take any steps to resolve the dispute diplomatically. “The question is whether this is a sign of things to come,” he said. Can China mediate between Russia and Ukraine when Xi Jinping visits Moscow?
Brian Katulas, an expert with the Middle East Institute, said the deal provides “a new potential avenue” for the US and Israel to consider reviving stalled talks on a nuclear deal.