Code: 653017 A

An informed diplomatic source told on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had agreed to grant a visa to a diplomat introduced as the caretaker of Iran's interests section.

Following the approval by Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry, head of the Oman and Yemen Department at Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Alibek, has been appointed as the caretaker of the Islamic Republic's interests section in the city of Jeddah, the official Iranian news agency further said.

Observers see the move as a positive diplomatic step in Tehran-Riyadh relations, it added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday that Iran planned to open an interests section in Saudi Arabia.

Iran intends to open an interests section in Saudi Arabia, two years after the kingdom unilaterally broke off its diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

“Advances have been made in the past two weeks and I believe there are signs that the interests section will open and become operational,” Qassemi added.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia first soured after a deadly human crush during the Hajj rituals in September 2015, when hundreds of Iranian pilgrims among others lost their lives.

Tensions further escalated a few months later following the kingdom's execution of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Riyadh cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran in January 2016 following angry protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad against the execution.

Ever since breaking its ties with Iran, the kingdom has ramped up its negative rhetoric against the Islamic Republic over its role in the region.

Back in December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic could restore its relations with Saudi Arabia should the kingdom end its military aggression on Yemen and cut its friendship with the Tel Aviv regime.

President Rouhnai says the Islamic Republic would have no problem with Saudi Arabia if it stopped "bowing to Israel" and relied on itself and regional nations.

"Saudi Arabia should suspend its bombardment of Yemen and stop begging for contacts with the Zionist regime," he said, adding, "We want Saudi Arabia to stop two things: the misguided friendship with Israel and the inhuman bombardment of Yemen."


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