In the wake of the visit by Iran’s foreign minister to Saudi Arabia, the Iranians are hoping the Saudis are serious about a new era in ties. Iran’s pro-government media highlighted a recent cabinet meeting in Saudi Arabia, saying that Riyadh is indicating a new phase in relations.
The report at Fars News is part of a wider pattern of Iran’s interest in rapidly expanding its ties with Saudi Arabia.
China also is watching this development closely. China’s foreign minister spoke with his Iranian counterpart after the Iranian diplomat traveled to Riyadh. As such China is clearly using Iran as one of its conduits to the Gulf. China is also doing its own outreach. Iran sees this as a unique opportunity.
The opportunity matters more today because of the BRICS summit taking place in South Africa this week. Saudi Arabia and Iran are both interested in joining BRICS. BRICS combines Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, making up a large percentage of the world’s leading non-Western economies.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan went to South Africa on Tuesday to attend the 15th BRICS Summit, Saudi Arabia state media reported.
CHINA’S TOP diplomat, Wang Yi, flanked by senior security officials of Iran and Saudi Arabia, announces that the two countries have agreed to restore diplomatic relations, in Beijing, earlier this month. (credit: CHINA DAILY VIA REUTERS)
“The minister will head the Saudi delegation on behalf of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On the sidelines of the summit, which takes place from Aug. 22-24 in Johannesburg, Prince Faisal will meet several delegates and dignitaries from different countries,” according to Arab News and Saudi Arabia’s SPA.
SCMP News reported also that “the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers have spoken ahead of Tuesday’s BRICS summit in Johannesburg, where Tehran is seeking to become the sixth member of the bloc.”
That report goes on to note that “Iran attaches great importance to the development of Iran and China’s comprehensive strategic partnership, and looks forward to maintaining high-level exchanges with China, deepening cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Amir-Abdollahian said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
On the surface at BRICS, the Saudi-Iran reconciliation is not a central issue; but there is a tie-in because of the wider sense that China is playing a growing role in the Gulf, and Iran is keen to see Saudi ties improve.
Iran looking to expand its circle of relations
As such, many balls are in motion at the same time and the meeting in South Africa brings together key players. Iran is also seeking to do more outreach to ASEAN countries, according to a separate report on Iran’s Fars News.
ASEAN, founded in 1967 as a group of countries, now has ten member states. These include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and others.
Iran’s media says Tehran is doing more outreach to Malaysia as well as other countries in ASEAN that have Muslim populations.
Source : The Jerusalem Post