Swiss embassy to 'represent Iran interests' in Saudi Arabia

Swiss embassy to 'represent Iran interests' in Saudi Arabia
2 min read
26 October, 2017
Switzerland is to represent Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia, following the 2016 break in diplomatic relations between the Gulf rivals, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region [AFP]

Switzerland will represent Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia, following the 2016 break in diplomatic relations between the Gulf rivals, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

The European nation said an accord has been signed for the opening of an Iranian interests section at the Swiss embassy in Riyadh.

According to Iranian media, Switzerland, which already represents US interests in Iran, will also house a Saudi interests section at its Tehran embassy.

Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region and tensions between the two countries have been increasing since 2016.

They back opposite sides of the wars in Syria and Yemen, and support political rivals in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq.

In May 2016, Tehran banned Iranian citizens from travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj following disagreements regarding a stampede at the previous year's pilgrimage which cost the lives of 2,000 pilgrims - including 464 Iranians. 

This development followed on from Saudi Arabia's execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016 and the consequent ransacking of two of the kingdom's diplomatic missions in Iran which led the two countries to break diplomatic ties. 

In May, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said there was no room for dialogue with Iran, due to its ambitions "to control the Islamic world."

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed any plans for direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia in July, stating "we don't have to fight; we don't need to fight. We don't need to try to exclude each other from the scene in the Middle East."

Agencies contributed to this report.