The surprise deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties offers much for the United States to be intrigued about, including a possible path to rein in Tehran's nuclear program and a chance to cement a cease-fire in Yemen.

It also contains an element sure to make officials in Washington deeply uneasy — the role of China as peace broker in a region where the U.S. has long wielded influence.

The deal was announced after four days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between the Middle East rivals. White House spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday that while Washington was not directly involved, Saudi Arabia kept U.S. officials informed of the talks with Iran.