U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 7, 2023. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Iran Says Saudi Crown Prince Has Accepted Invitation to Visit

Saturday, 05/25/2024

Iran's state media has once again reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has agreed to an invitation to visit Iran, although no date for the visit has yet been announced.

This marks the first potential visit by a Saudi royal to Tehran in over two decades, signaling another step towards diplomatic engagement after years of strained ties. However, last year Iran had also claimed that the Saudi price would visit.

According to IRNA, the state-run news agency in Iran, the visit was agreed upon after Mohammed bin Salman responded positively to an invitation from Mohammad Mokhber, Iran's acting President.

The announcement comes over a year after a détente that saw the two nations agree to reopen embassies and resume diplomatic exchanges following a seven-year freeze. Despite such moves, the relationship between Riyadh and Tehran remains fraught with suspicion and minimal substantive engagement.

Observers note that the détente has yet to bring about significant agreements or ease the primary points of contention that have long fueled hostilities between the two regional powers, especially the Houthi militias in Yemen.

The rivalry extends to disputes over key energy resources, with both nations staking claims on the vital Arash/Dorra oil and gas fields, which have yet to see a resolution acceptable to either party.

The diplomatic outreach occurs amidst heightened regional tensions, particularly due to Iran's support for various proxy groups that many see as destabilizing efforts in the Middle East. Despite discussions on potential economic cooperation and investment, deep-seated disagreements over fundamental regional issues continue to overshadow the slow-paced rapprochement.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute concerning Riyadh's execution of a Shiite Muslim cleric. Further tensions arose from ongoing conflicts, including missile and drone strikes by Iran's Houthi militia on Saudi oil facilities and tankers in the Persian Gulf, exacerbating the strain during a conflict that has spanned nearly a decade.

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