Iranian diplomats arrive in Saudi Arabia after years

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Three Iranian diplomats have arrived in Saudi Arabia to represent Tehran in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, state TV reported Monday.

The report said the diplomats arrived several days ago, marking the first time that Saudi Arabia is receiving diplomats from Iran since 2016. That's when Saudi Arabia severed relations with the Islamic Republic after Iranian hardliners attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

The development reflects the potential for improving ties and a possible exchange of diplomats between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is the permanent venue of the 57-member organization.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters that Iran is focusing for now on reopening its offices in OIC with three diplomats. Iran has long said it's ready to reopen its embassy in Riyadh.

In recent months, neighboring Iraq has hosted talks between the two Arab nations aimed at normalizing ties.

The regional rivals have taken sides with opposite parties across the Middle East, including in war-stricken Yemen and Syria.

Saudi Arabia is also concerned about Iran's nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. Iran says the nuclear program has peaceful purposes and its missile program is merely defensive.

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