Iran has praised Saudi Arabia over its evacuation efforts amid the conflict in Sudan entering its third week. Hundreds of foreigners escaping the country have arrived in the kingdom in recent days, with 1,900 evacuees arriving at a Saudi naval base in Jeddah by ferry yesterday, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Among the latest group were the first known Iranian evacuees to escape the fighting, numbering 65 which was confirmed by Iran’s foreign ministry who said they left Port Sudan, through Jeddah, to Iran.
In recognition of Saudi Arabia’s initiative, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said “We have seen effective co-operation and assistance from Saudi Arabia that deserves appreciation and gratitude.”
While Hassan Zarnegar Abarghoui, one of four Iranian diplomats waiting to receive the citizens at the King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah, said Tehran was grateful for the “humanitarian co-operation” shown by the Saudi government.
One Iranian citizen who was evacuated, Nima Saddei was quoted by Al-Jazeera as saying: “We had a bad situation in Khartoum, because of the war and we didn’t know what we should do. Thank you, Saudi Arabia. Good trip to Saudi Arabia and I’m very happy.”
Another Iranian evacuee, businessman Merhdad Malekzadh told The National “Because of our nationality, we had never imagined we would come to Saudi Arabia when we were evacuated”.
“Fortunately, they really helped us. They put their differences aside and worked together. They saved lives,” he added.
Last month Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a Chinese-brokered deal, seven years after severing ties. They are currently working to reopen their respective embassies and to resume flights between the two countries.