The foreign ministers for Saudi Arabia and Iran are set to meet in Beijing on Thursday in what could be a significant step towards easing tensions between the two regional rivals. The meeting, which will take place at the invitation of Chinese officials, is expected to be the first high-level talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran since 2016.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been at odds over a range of issues, including their support for opposing sides in the civil war in Yemen. The two countries also compete for influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
The reported meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian are expected to focus on finding ways to de-escalate tensions and promote stability in the region. The meeting is seen as a positive development for China, as Beijing has strong ties with both Saudi Arabia and Iran and has previously played a role in mediating between the two countries. This was most evident this past March, when China brokered a deal between these two nations to re-normalize relations.
Chinese officials have expressed their hope that the meeting will lead to a reduction in tensions and pave the way for further dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran. They have also stressed the importance of regional stability for China’s strategic interests, given its reliance on Middle Eastern oil and gas.
The talks come as Iran is in the midst of negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program, which has been a major point of contention with the United States and its allies. Saudi Arabia has been a vocal critic of the nuclear deal, which it sees as a threat to regional security.