China to mediate talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran
Tehran's foreign minister said he was prepared to enter into talks ahead of a visit to China by Saudi Arabia's King Salman on 18 March, following years of fractured ties between the two regional powerhouses.
"Iran has good intentions for the region and is willing to cooperate with regional countries and hold talks with them," said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said that Beijing was prepared to facilitate the bilateral talks.
"We hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran can resolve the problems that exist between them via equal and friendly consultations," Wang said.
"China is friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If there is a need China is willing to play our necessary role."
This is not the first time that China has offered to host talks between two Middle Eastern parties.
Yemen's Houthi rebels visited the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing in December in order to negotiate the end of the country's civil war.
Hamza al-Houthi, the rebel's chief negotiator met with director-general Deng Li to discuss terms after a string of US-brokered ceasefires quickly broke down.
China has historically stepped back from interfering in international relations, but this changed in the wake of its 'Silk Road' project.
This mega-investment initiative aims to build increased trade links with Africa and Asia, reportedly in order to best transfer commodities back to China.
China is a long-term economic partner of both Iran and Saudi Arabia and backs Iran's plans to build a nuclear power plant.