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Iran’s President Raisi ‘welcomes’ invitation by Saudi king: official

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has “welcomed” an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit the kingdom following the reconciliation deal between the two countries, an Iranian official said on Sunday.

“In a letter to President Raisi … the king of Saudi Arabia welcomed the deal between the two brotherly countries [and] invited him to Riyadh,” tweeted Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, adding that “Raisi welcomed the invitation”.

The two regional heavyweights announced on March 10 a Chinese-brokered deal to restore ties seven years after they were severed.

Riyadh cut relations after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016 following the Saudi execution of revered Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr – just one in a series of flashpoints between the two longstanding regional rivals.

The deal is expected to see Shia-majority Iran and mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters on Sunday that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting between their top diplomats.

He added that three locations for the talks had been suggested, without specifying which.

Several Gulf countries followed in Riyadh’s footsteps in 2016 and cut off ties with Tehran, though the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have recently restored ties.

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