Iran, Saudi Arabia leaders meet for first time since restoring diplomatic ties

The leaders of the two regional powers in the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have met for the first time since their diplomatic ties were normalized earlier this year.

Iran's presidential office said that President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran met Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the joint meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League in Riyadh on Saturday.

They discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, which are believed to include the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The two countries have been rivals vying for regional leadership, but they agreed to restore the relationship in March this year with China's mediation, following a 7-year hiatus.

They reopened their respective embassies.

Arab nations have recently moved to improve relations with Israel.

But such moves have been halted as an increasing number of civilians in Gaza are killed by Israeli military operations. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas following its attack on October 7.

Stronger ties with Saudi Arabia could give Iran, which has been supporting Hamas, leverage against Israel.