Iran and Saudi Arabia set to restore ties after Beijing mediation

BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia and Iran announced Friday an agreement to resume relations in a joint statement inked by the two countries and China and carried by Saudi and Iranian state media.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016 after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked and burned by Iranian protesters, angered by the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

The revered cleric had emerged as a leading figure in protests in the Eastern Province, a Shiite-majority part of the Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia.

Relations between the two gulf countries have continued to decline since. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supplying weapons to their foes the Houthis, 

a militant group in neighboring Yemen being fought by a Saudi-led coalition. U.S. officials also believe Iran launched attacks from its territory on oil facilities in the kingdom. Tehran has denied involvement.

The tripartite statement said embassies would be reopened within two months, and emphasized the importance of respecting each other’s sovereignty and not interfering in each other’s internal affairs.