20 May 2024, 16:42

Saudi Arabia offers condolences to Iran over Raisi's death

RIYADH, May 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Saudi Arabia extended its condolences on Monday to Iran over the death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, "offer their condolences to his excellency, the acting head of the executive authority, Mohammad Mokhber, on the death of his excellency Ebrahim Raisi, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his companions," said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia have long been on opposing sides of regional conflicts, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

In 2016 bilateral ties were severed after attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran during protests over Riyadh's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

But in March 2023 the Middle East heavyweights announced a surprise rapprochement brokered by China, and they have been in relatively frequent contact in recent months as they worked to contain the war triggered in Gaza by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel.

That diplomatic outreach included the first phone call between Prince Mohammed and Raisi -- just five days after the war broke out -- and a visit by Raisi to Riyadh in November for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.


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