Bin Farhan to Asharq al-Awsat: Agreement with Iran shows shared desire to settle disputes through dialogue

Press Highlights
2023-03-13 | 03:35
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Bin Farhan to Asharq al-Awsat: Agreement with Iran shows shared desire to settle disputes through dialogue
Bin Farhan to Asharq al-Awsat: Agreement with Iran shows shared desire to settle disputes through dialogue

According to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi-Iranian agreement to re-establish diplomatic ties confirms the shared desire on both sides to "resolve differences through communication and dialogue." 
"This does not mean reaching a solution to all outstanding differences between the two countries," he emphasized.
Last Friday, in Beijing, Riyadh, and Tehran reached an agreement to resume their strained ties that had been broken off in 2016 and to reopen their respective embassies there within two months.
In his first interview since the announcement, the Saudi minister told Asharq al-Awsat that, based on the agreements made, he was looking forward to meeting with his Iranian counterpart soon. 
"It is normal for us to exchange visits in the future, and we are getting ready to resume diplomatic relations between our two countries over the next two months," he continued.
Regarding his recent trip to Kyiv and Moscow and the discussion of Saudi mediation to end the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Bin Farhan stated that Saudi Arabia "is ready to make good offices and work with the two countries to reach a political solution that ends the crisis, stops the fighting, and saves lives," highlighting the necessity of stopping the escalation that has harmed the two nations as well as the security of Europe and weakened the level of international cooperation. 
The interview's text is as follows:

 -             What is the direct Saudi interest in an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran that includes a commitment to resume diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within a maximum of two months? Does the agreement signal the start of a new era for the region's burning issues, both politically and economically?
Diplomatic ties between nations are the basis for all international relations. This is particularly true for two neighboring countries of the size of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Iran that share a number of religious, cultural, historical, and civilizational ties.
After several rounds of negotiations over the previous two years in the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Iraq, this agreement was reached through the sponsorship and mediation of the People's Republic of China. 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keeping to its course of de-escalation while acknowledging its obligation to support global and regional security and stability.
We have not resolved all of the outstanding issues between our two nations by coming to this agreement, which will result in the resumption of political relations.
Instead, it proves our shared desire to talk about and resolve them through peaceful means and diplomatic instruments.
With Iran, we in the Kingdom hope to turn a new page and broaden the horizons of cooperation, which will positively bolster security and stability and accelerate the development and prosperity of not only our two nations but the entire region.

-        When will you next meet with Iran's foreign minister to implement the agreement and set up the ambassadorial swap? Can we see you in Tehran soon?
Based on what was agreed upon, I look forward to meeting with Iran's foreign minister soon. We will get ready to resume diplomatic relations between our two countries over the next two months. It is normal for us to exchange visits in the future.

-        Washington questioned Iran's commitment to "respecting the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their affairs," despite Riyadh and Tehran's affirmation in the tripartite statement signed with Beijing. Does the agreement contain conditions on interfering in other people's internal affairs, and do you believe Iran will uphold this provision?
Adherence to what was agreed upon by the two parties and to the provisions of the Saudi-Iranian-Chinese tripartite statement is one of the most crucial conditions for starting a new chapter with Iran.
To realize the aspirations and hopes of our people and the young generations in our region for a better future dominated by security, stability, and prosperity, it is in the interest of our two countries as well as the region as a whole, to activate the tracks of joint cooperation and coordination and focus on development priorities rather than hegemony considerations. 
We anticipate working with the Iranian side to achieve these goals. We hope they will share our goals and aspirations.

-        Iran has long been dealing with several crises, beginning with the breakdown of nuclear deal negotiations and concluding with the internal situation that breeds crisis after crisis, along with several urgent economic and social issues. However, some people, particularly in the West, think that this new agreement could serve as the Iranian government's lifeline at a crucial moment. Your thoughts?
Since most of the topics raised in the question are internal to Iran, I won't comment on them. However, I can say that Iran is a neighboring country whose stability and growth are beneficial to the stability and growth of the entire region.
We, in Saudi Arabia wish Iran nothing but good. As for Iran's continued development of its nuclear capabilities, this undoubtedly worries us. We reiterate our call for the Gulf region and the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction.
We will keep collaborating with allies and friends to ensure that Iran abides by its nuclear commitments and increases its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

-                China is not accustomed to lending its diplomatic influence to efforts to end regional crises. Why was China chosen as the mediator in this case instead of another nation?

Saudi Arabia welcomed the proposal made by His Excellency the President of the friendly People's Republic of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, as stated in the joint statement, and engaged with it as an extension and continuation of the negotiations that have been ongoing with the Iranian side for two years. 
It goes without saying that China has good relations with both parties. 
This has contributed to bringing points of view closer and highlighting the Kingdom's legitimate concerns.
We hope China's sponsorship of the agreement will improve regional coexistence, shared security, and friendly relations between nations.
The three countries have a common interest in fostering a regional environment dominated by peace, security, and stability to build and develop regional and international partnerships through which they provide the requirements for development and economic prosperity for the peoples and countries of the region.

-        You presented in Moscow an initiative to end the conflict in Ukraine. Can you elaborate on your diplomatic efforts there, particularly the degree to which the parties accept any Saudi role, your progress in this area, and your optimism regarding success?
We were and remain prepared to use our good offices and cooperate with the two nations to find a political solution that resolves the crisis, ends the fighting, and spares lives.
The efforts of Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince, and Prime Minister, succeeded in completing a prisoner exchange deal between the two parties, which resulted in the return of citizens of ten nations to their countries.
The Kingdom has focused on highlighting the importance of meeting the urgent humanitarian needs that have been affected by the continuation of the war. Our humanitarian assistance to Ukraine came in response to that.
We provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine in response to the Kingdom's emphasis on the necessity of addressing urgent humanitarian needs that the ongoing conflict has impacted.
Both parties and the rest of the world must act to halt the dangerous escalation of the situation, which has harmed both nations, compromised European security, and reduced levels of international cooperation.

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