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Iran-Saudi Pact Marks China’s Debut as Great Power Diplomatic Player

A man in Tehran holds a local newspaper reporting on its front page the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Friday’s news that China brokered the final stage of a diplomatic détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia triggered a torrent of analysis in major news publications around the world.

From Asia to the Middle East to the United States, two consistent themes emerged in the coverage: surprise that it was China, not the U.S., that led the talks and framing the deal as marking a new era of great power diplomacy in the Middle East:

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