RIYADH — Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that Saudi Arabia’s agreement with Iran to restore diplomatic ties does not mean that both countries have reached a solution to all disputes between them. He emphasized that the Saudi-Iranian agreement to restore diplomatic relations underscores the joint desire by both sides to “resolve disputes through communication and dialogue.”

Prince Faisal said this in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper following the recent decision of Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic ties that were severed in 2016. Riyadh and Tehran also agreed to reopen their embassies within two months.

In his first interview since the China-sponsored agreement was reached, Prince Faisal said he was looking forward to meeting his Iranian counterpart soon to build on the deal. “We are preparing to restore our diplomatic ties within two months, so it is normal for us to exchange visits in the future,” he said.

Prince Faisal noted that diplomatic ties are at the core of relations between countries. “This is doubly significant for two neighboring countries of the size of Saudi Arabia and Iran. They share several religious, historic, and cultural ties, and so the agreement was reached through China’s sponsorship and mediation, and that was after several rounds of talks over the past two years in Iraq and Oman.”

Prince Faisal reaffirmed that Saudi Arabia is forging ahead in the path of de-escalation it has chosen because of its sense of responsibility in bolstering regional and international security and stability. “We, in the Kingdom, hope to open a new chapter with Iran and bolster cooperation that would consolidate security and stability and push forward development and prosperity, not just in both our countries, but the entire region,” he said.

Referring to Iran’s commitment to non-interference in the affairs of other countries, Prince Faisal explained that one of the most important demands for opening a new chapter in ties with Iran is committing to the agreement signed between the two countries. “There is no doubt that both our countries and the region have an interest in activating joint cooperation and coordination and focusing on development instead of hegemony. Such an approach will achieve the aspirations and hopes of our peoples and generations to come for a better future that is secure, stable, and prosperous,” he said while hoping that “the Iranians share our hope and goals and we look forward to working with them to achieve them.”

The foreign minister emphasized that as a neighboring country, Iran’s stability and development will benefit the interest and development of the region and Saudi Arabia wishes it well. Prince Faisal said that Iran’s continued development of its nuclear capabilities is a cause for alarm. “We have repeatedly called for the Gulf region and the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction. We call on Iran to commit to its nuclear pledges and intensify its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and we will continue to work with allies and friends to ensure that,” he said.

Prince Faisal said that China’s sponsorship of the agreement would bolster coexistence and security in the region, and good neighborliness between countries. “The three countries have a joint interest in preparing a regional environment that is marked by peace, security and stability so that they can work on building and developing regional and international partnerships that achieve economic development and prosperity for the people.”

The minister noted that Saudi Arabia welcomed the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “The initiative worked with it as an extension of the negotiations that it has been holding with the Iranians for two years. It is no secret that China enjoys positive relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran that has helped achieve rapprochement and highlight the Kingdom’s legitimate concerns,” he said.

On his latest visit to Kyiv and Moscow and talks about a Saudi mediation to stop the Ukraine-Russia war, Prince Faisal stressed that the Kingdom was prepared to exert efforts and work with the two countries to reach a political solution that ends the crisis and fighting and saves lives. “We were and are still ready to exert efforts and to work with both countries to reach a political solution that would end the crisis and fighting and save lives.”

Prince Faisal noted that the efforts of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman led to a prisoner exchange between the two sides. “The Kingdom has been focusing on meeting the immediate humanitarian needs that emerged from the war, and our humanitarian response in Ukraine is evidence of this drive. The situation requires both parties, as well as the international community, to stop the dangerous escalation that has harmed the two countries and Europe’s security and weakened international cooperation,” he added.

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