China Brokers Landmark Diplomacy Between Key US Ally And Iran

(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Saudi Arabia and Iran are set to resume formal diplomatic relations for the first time in years after reaching an agreement brokered by China.

Tehran and Riyadh reached the agreement Friday after months of negotiations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cut off ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the country’s diplomatic posts in Iran.

The agreement, which was finalized in Beijing this week at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) National People’s Congress, sets the stage for the re-opening of embassies in the two countries and the re-establishment of formal ties within the next two months.

The United States did not seem alarmed at the re-establishment of relations between a key ally, Saudi Arabia, and one of its primary adversaries, Iran, by another adversary, China.

“Generally speaking, we welcome any efforts to help end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region,” a National Security Council official told Al Arabiya English. “De-escalation and diplomacy together with deterrence are key pillars of the policy President Biden outlined during his visit to the region last year.”

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters Friday that the Biden administration wasn’t directly involved in the negotiations, although the Saudis kept Washington informed throughout. He added that Iran is not known for maintaining its commitments in these types of situations.

China, the Kingdom and Iran issued a joint communique stating that “the two sides also expressed their appreciation and thanks to the leadership and government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting and sponsoring the talks and their efforts to make them a success.” (RELATED: Taiwan Convinces Kevin McCarthy To Cancel Visit In Bid To Placate China)

The agreement represents a major diplomatic win for Chinese President Xi Jinping, which comes the same day he was awarded a third term as president. At the same time, the Biden administration has continued to stress in recent weeks it seeks to “outcompete” Beijing as relations between the two countries worsen.