The Armenian and Saudi ambassadors in Abu Dhabi signed a protocol on establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, November 25, 2023

Armenia, Saudi Arabia Establish Diplomatic Relations

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Saudi Arabia on Saturday, November 25, formally agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, ending a decades-long policy related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry announced that the Armenian and Saudi ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates signed a relevant protocol in Abu Dhabi. It said the document cites the two countries’ desire to “establish cordial relations in various fields.”

Armenia has long maintained such relations with other Gulf Arab monarchies, notably the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Both nations have embassies in Yerevan.

It was not immediately clear whether Riyadh and Yerevan are planning to open embassies in each other’s capital.

Saudi Arabia had for decades refused to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia due to its conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over Karabakh. The oil-rich kingdom signaled a change in that policy after its relations with Armenia’s arch-foe and Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey deteriorated significantly several years ago.

The policy change was highlighted in October 2021 by then Armenian President Armen Sarkissian’s visit to Riyadh. Sarkissian sat next to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the opening ceremony of an international conference held there.

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Saudi Arabia made more overtures to Yerevan in February 2022 when its Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan held talks on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany. It was the first-ever face-to-face meeting of the top diplomats of the two states.

Armenia subsequently voiced support for Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Expo 2030 world fair. In another sign of warming bilateral ties, a Saudi airline launched first-ever commercial flights to Yerevan in June this year.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signaled the impending normalization of Armenian-Saudi relations in televised remarks aired on Friday.

“I hope that Armenia and Saudi Arabia will soon establish diplomatic relations, which would be a very significant development,” he said.

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