UAE president accepts invitation to visit Iran

December 05, 2013 - 6:36:43 am

UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (centre) and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (right) with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Dubai yesterday.
DUBAI: The president of the United Arab Emirates yesterday accepted an invitation to visit Iran, the Wam news agency said, as Tehran looks to mend ties with Gulf states.

The Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, have long viewed Shia Iran as a regional rival and the two sides are currently locked in a proxy war in Syria, with Tehran backing the regime and Saudi Arabia and Qatar supporting Sunni-led rebels.

But Iran has tried to improve relations in recent weeks following a landmark agreement on its nuclear programme, which the Gulf countries and the West have long suspected is aimed at developing a weapons capability, allegations denied by Tehran.

The invitation was delivered to the UAE president H H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a meeting between the two in a palace in Al Ain, in the east of the Emirates. “The date for the visit will be announced at a later stage,” Wam said. Sheikh Khalifa told his guest that the UAE welcomes the nuclear deal, stressing that his nation aspires for “strengthened security and stability in the region and cooperation between countries,” Wam said.

Zarif is in the UAE as part of a Gulf tour that has taken him to Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

He said Iran’s newly elected president Hasan Rouhani wishes to strengthen relations with Gulf countries, “stressing that Iran gives high importance to its relations with neighbours, especially the UAE,” Wam reported.

In Kuwait, Zarif reassured Gulf Arab states on Sunday that Tehran’s nuclear deal is in their interest.AFP
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