The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in China for the first formal meeting of their most senior diplomats in more than seven years, Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya television said, under a deal to revive ties between the regional powers.
After years of hostility that fueled conflicts across the Middle East, Tehran and Riyadh agreed to end their diplomatic rift and re-open embassies in a major deal facilitated by China last month.
In brief footage broadcast on Twitter in the early hours of Thursday, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, greet each other before sitting down side by side.
The two countries said in a joint statement they would launch arrangements to reopen embassies and consulates within the two-month period stipulated in the deal last month.
"The technical teams will continue coordination to examine the ways of expanding cooperation including the resumption of flights and bilateral visits of official and private sector delegations and facilitating the granting of visas for the citizens of the two countries," they said.
In March, China's President Xi Jinping helped broker the surprise deal between the rivals to end a seven-year rift and restore diplomatic ties - a display of China's growing influence in the region.
That month, Xi spoke by telephone with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud about several issues.
Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian said the Thursday meeting with his Saudi counterpart was "good and forward-looking," according to Iranian state TV.
Beijing's role in the breakthrough between Tehran and Riyadh shook up dynamics in the Middle East, where the United States was for decades the main mediator.
"The technical teams will continue coordination to examine ways of expanding cooperation including the resumption of flights and bilateral visits of official and private sector delegations and facilitating the granting of visas for the citizens of the two countries," they said.
In a tweet, Iran's Amirabdollahian said the Thursday meeting with his Saudi counterpart was "positive," adding that "the emphasis on stability and sustainable security" were among the issues agreed upon and "on the common agenda."
In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping helped broker the surprise deal in a display of Beijing's growing influence in the Middle East. China's role in the breakthrough shook up dynamics in a conflict-ridden region where the United States has for decades been the main mediator.
The detente between the Sunni kingdom and the revolutionary Shi’ite theocracy could help stabilize the Middle East, where the two sides have supported sectarian proxy forces that are either at daggers drawn or openly at war.
Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite cleric.
The relationship began worsening a year earlier, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen's war, where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had ousted a Saudi-backed government and taken over the capital Sanaa.
It is unclear whether the restoration of diplomatic relations could help bolster peace-making in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been in tough talks with the Houthis on a permanent ceasefire.
However, the rapprochement could mean improved security for Saudi Arabia as it pursues its vast Vision 2030 project to modernize and diversify its long oil-dependent economy. The kingdom has accused Iran of arming the Houthis, who launched missiles and drones at Saudi cities and oil facilities.
In 2019, Riyadh blamed an attack on Aramco oil facilities, which knocked out half of its oil output, directly on the Islamic Republic. Iran denied those accusations.
Tehran and Riyadh, according to the joint statement, underlined the importance of reviving a security pact signed in 2001, under which both sides agreed to cooperate to tackle terrorism, drug-smuggling and money-laundering, as well as a trade and technology pact from 1998.