Iranian president arrives in Riyadh for first visit since restoration of diplomatic ties

Tehran: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday for what is the first visit of an Iranian leader since the two countries restored their diplomatic ties after a seven-year hiatus, the Iranian presidency said.

“Dr Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday afternoon and was welcomed by a group of Saudi officials, the ambassador and members of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s embassy in the country,” the Iranian presidency said in a statement.

Iranian news agency IRNA published a video of Raisi being greeted by Saudi officials. The Iranian president spotted a traditional checkered Palestinian scarf, in what was reportedly a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

This is the first visit of an Iranian president to Saudi Arabia in 11 years, the presidency said. It is timed to an emergency summit on Gaza due to be held later in the day by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The 57-nation organization is expected to push for an end to Israeli-Hamas fighting.

In early March, Iran and Saudi Arabia, with China’s mediation, agreed to resume diplomatic relations that were severed in 2016 after Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in Iran were attacked following the execution of Shiite preacher Nimr al-Nimr. The agreement on the restoration of diplomatic ties and preparation for the opening of diplomatic missions was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries at a festive ceremony in April.


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