Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, walked out of a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran protest to a picture of IRGC general Qassem Soleimani that was hanging in the room, Iran International reported on Sunday.
The incident took place on Saturday and was mostly not reported by Iranian media, according to Iran International, which is affiliated with the Iranian opposition.
Prince Faisal was holding a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, when the top Saudi diplomat realized he was standing in front of a picture of Soleimani, who was eliminated in a US air strike in Iraq in 2020. Soleimani is viewed as Iran’s architect of proxy wars in the Middle East, including arming Yemen’s Houthis rebels against Saudi Arabia.
Prince Faisal immediately requested the venue of the press conference to be changed and the Iranian side complied, in a bid not to tarnish the newly revived relations between the two countries.
The Saudi Foreign Minister’s visit to Tehran follows a China-brokered deal reached in March. Under the agreement, Saudi Arabia and Iran are to reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.
Saudi Arabia broke ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts in Tehran and the northeastern city of Mashhad during demonstrations triggered by the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric and 46 others in the oil-rich Kingdom.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry officially announced earlier this month it would reopen its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the agreement.
The deal is also expected to pave the way for a resolution to the conflict in Yemen, where Iran and Saudi Arabia back opposing sides.
US and Saudi officials said recently that Iran has agreed to halt covert weapons shipments to its Houthi allies in Yemen as part of the deal with Saudi Arabia.