Rouhani to visit Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has officially invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to visit the kingdom, diplomatic and political sources in Beirut said Friday, a development that is likely to help defuse sectarian tensions in the region.
Rouhani has accepted the invitation and officials in Tehran have begun making preparations for the visit, the sources told The Daily Star. His visit is expected to take place following U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Riyadh in the last week of March, they added.
Relations between heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained by policy differences, particularly over the 3-year-old war in Syria, where the two countries support opposing sides.
Speaker Nabih Berri and other Lebanese politicians have said that improved Iranian-Saudi relations would result in breakthroughs in the Syria crisis as well as in Lebanon and Iraq.
Following his election as Iran’s president in June 2013, Rouhani had declared that he sought to improve ties with Saudi Arabia. He was originally scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj last year and meet with King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz. But the visit had been delayed for unknown reasons.