Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman says Iranian and Saudi diplomatic delegations will travel to one another’s countries merely to visit their respective embassies and consulates nearly 20 months after the severance of bilateral ties.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Saudi delegation’s visit to Iran is only aimed at visiting their diplomatic sites because they have remained empty since Saudi Arabian diplomats left Iran.
In an interview with IRNA, he noted that an Iranian delegation is also set to arrive in Saudi Arabia in future to visit Iran’s diplomatic mission in the Arab country.
According to Qassemi, the visits will be made as part of a bilateral agreement between Tehran and Riyadh.
“The Saudi delegation’s visas were issued a long time ago but they have yet to visit the Islamic Republic for any reason. Their visit has been probably postponed to a date after the Hajj season,” he added.
The spokesman also dismissed as baseless certain media reports on Riyadh’s decision to receive compensation for the damages made on its diplomatic mission in Iran and said so far, no demand has been raised by the Saudi side in this regard.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated after Riyadh’s execution of a Shiite cleric in 2016. The move triggered angry protests in many countries, including Iran.
Outraged protesters in Iran attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. Following the attacks, Riyadh cut its diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.
Ties began to deteriorate following a human crush in Mina, near the Saudi holy city of Mecca, in September 2015, which killed thousands of pilgrims, including hundreds of Iranians. The incident cast doubt on the kingdom’s efficiency in hosting the rituals.
Iran is still pressing Saudi Arabia to clarify the circumstances of the incident and a separate crane crash earlier that month in which another number of Iranian pilgrims were killed.
Tensions between the two countries eased considerably recently during preparations for the pilgrimage this year when Iranian Hajj officials and diplomats met with Saudi officials to discuss arrangements for Iranian pilgrims.
According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida, the 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.