Saudi delegation to visit Iran after Eid: Report

Gulf News – A Saudi diplomatic delegation is set to go to Iran to assess damages to the kingdom’s diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad.

The delegation will fly to Tehran following Eid Al Adha, Kuwaiti dailyAl Jareeda reported on Saturday, citing Iranian sources close to the foreign minister.

The Saudi assessment team was initially scheduled to fly to Tehran two months ago, but the visit was postponed over differences between the Saudis and the Iranians regarding the programme of the delegation and the meetings it would have with Iranian officials, the source said.

The Saudis had expressed their anger over the slow pace of the Iranians in arranging the visas for the delegation members, the source added.

The Saudi delegation wanted to meet judges and officials in charge of following up the attacks on the embassy in Tehran and the general consulate in the northern city of Mashhad, but the Iranian foreign ministry claimed it could not arrange the meetings, a claim that did not please the Saudis, according to the source.

Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 following the twin attacks on its diplomatic missions by Iranians protesting the execution of a Saudi national among 47 prisoners convicted by courts of law on terrorism charges.

According to the source, tension between the two countries eased considerably recently during the preparations for the pilgrimage this year when Iranian Haj officials and diplomats met Saudi officials to discuss arrangements for would-be Iranian pilgrims. The Iranian delegation reportedly commended in their report to the authorities the “highly positive” positions of the Saudis during the talks.

An Iranian delegation is expected to visit Saudi Arabia following the mission by the Saudi assessment team amid hopes that the exchange of visits would mark the start of a new chapter in the relations between the two countries, particularly as bilateral contacts would be open and direct instead of via third parties.

Iranians are looking forward to the visits succeeding in settling differences and the resumption of diplomatic ties, the source said, adding that the Iranians view the presence of the Saudi team in Iran was an indication of the kingdom’s intention to resume diplomatic relations.