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China greets Saudi Arabia, Iran for landmark agreement to resume diplomatic ties

China on Saturday greeted Saudi Arabia and Iran’s agreement to resume bilateral diplomatic relations, following several days of deliberation between their top security officials in Beijing.

Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Beijing looks forward to seeing closer communication and dialogue between the two countries and that China stands ready to continue playing a positive and constructive role in facilitating such efforts.

“With the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, the talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing produced major outcomes,” said the ministry.

China facilitated talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran delegations from March 6 to 10. The Saudi delegation was led by Minister of State and National Security Advisor Musaad bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, while the Iranian delegation was led by Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Admiral Ali Shamkhani.

Wang Yi, a Chinese top diplomat and member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, facilitated the talks between Riyadh and Tehran, the ministry said in a statement posted on its official website.

It said: “Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, resolve the disagreements between them through dialogue and diplomacy, respect the sovereignty of states, and not interfere in internal affairs of states.

“They agreed to resume diplomatic relations, and carry out cooperation in various fields. The three countries expressed their keenness to exert all efforts towards enhancing regional and international peace and security.”

Beijing hoped that the agreement reached between the two countries, as well as the establishment of a roadmap and timeline for improving relations, would provide a solid foundation for the two countries to begin a new chapter in their bilateral relations.

On Friday, a tripartite statement was issued after several days of intense negotiations between Saudi and Iranian officials, brokered by China.

The two countries severed ties after an angry mob attacked the Saudi diplomatic mission in Tehran in January 2016 following the execution of Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

It was China’s President Xi Jinping’s initiative to end diplomatic tensions between Riyadh and Tehran after his visit to Saudi Arabia in December last year, and later Iranian President visited Beijing at his Chinese counterpart’s invitation, according to Chinese media.

China said the agreement will enable the region’s nations to free themselves from outside interference and control their own future.

“I want to stress that China pursues no selfish interest whatsoever in the Middle East. We respect the stature of Middle East countries as the masters of this region and oppose geopolitical competition in the Middle East,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

“China has no intention to and will not seek to fill the so-called vacuum or put up exclusive blocs. China always believes that the future of the Middle East should always be in the hands of the countries in the region,” he added.

Beijing assured to continue their support to bringing lasting peace in the Middle East.

“China always supports the people in the Middle East in independently exploring their development paths and supports Middle East countries in resolving differences through dialogue and consultation to jointly promote lasting peace and stability in the region,” it added.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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