Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to resume ties

STORY: With a handshake, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that the two countries are reestablishing relations.

The agreement comes after seven years of hostility which had threatened security and stability in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts from Yemen to Syria.

It follows four days of previously undisclosed talks in China between top security officials from the two rival Middle East powers.

Here’s Iran's Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani:

"At the end of the talks we reached a conclusion, to start a new chapter after seven years of breaking off relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia, while considering the matters of the two countries, and the security and future of the region, to prevent meddling from extra-regional and western states, and consistent meddling of the Zionist regime in the region.”

The two countries also agreed to re-open embassies within two months and re-activate a 2001 security cooperation accord, as well as another earlier pact on trade, economy and investment.

China's top diplomat Wang Yi described the deal as a victory for dialog and peace, adding that Beijing would continue to play a constructive role in addressing tough global issues.

A White House spokesperson said the Saudis kept Washington informed of the talks but the U.S. was not directly involved.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, respectively the two leading Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, have been at odds for years and backed opposite sides in proxy wars from Yemen to Syria and elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric.

A senior Iranian official said that addressing the tensions with Saudi Arabia had become a top priority for Tehran in recent months and would help resolve long-running talks on Iran's nuclear program.