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Iranian president supports Amir’s call for dialogue

Rouhani visits Kuwait, Oman to improve ties

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, center left, is welcomed by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, center, at the Kuwait International Airport, in Farwaniya, Kuwait.

KUWAIT: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Kuwait yesterday as part of a lightning two-nation Gulf tour aimed at mending ties strained by the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Rouhani held talks with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who last month launched a dialogue with the Islamic republic to normalize Iran-Gulf relations. An official statement cited by the KUNA news agency said they discussed bolstering bilateral ties in all fields. They also held talks on “latest regional and international developments,” said the statement, without giving further details.

Ahead of his visit to Oman and Kuwait, Rouhani had expressed support for the latter’s efforts to “resolve misunderstandings and boost relations” with Gulf countries. “On this trip, there will be discussions about the region, the situation in Iraq, Syria and in particular in Yemen,” Iran’s official news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

Tehran’s ties with other Gulf states have been strained over its support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad and alleged backing of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah visited Tehran last month, calling for a “normalization of ties and opening dialogue”. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held in Manama in December asked Kuwait to initiate contacts with Tehran to start a dialogue to improve ties. Kuwait has maintained normal relations with Tehran despite taking part in the Saudi-led military campaign against the Houthi rebels. HH the Amir visited Iran in 2014.

Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said in remarks published yesterday that he hopes Rouhani’s visit will open the dialogue between the Gulf states and Iran. The elements needed for the dialogue, which were included in HH the Amir’s letter, call for non-interference in the internal affairs of the Gulf states, respecting their sovereignty and establishing good neighborly relations, Jarallah said in the comments published in Al-Qabas newspaper.

In Muscat, Rouhani was welcomed by Sultan Qaboos, where the two discussed bilateral relations and the situation in the region, Oman’s official ONA news agency reported. “Tehran has always been in favor of resolving problems and disputes through dialogue,” Rouhani said, according to Iranian media. “Iran’s military power is only defensive.”
He appealed for a ceasefire, increased humanitarian aid and political dialogue to resolve the conflict in Yemen. “Today, the Yemenis are in a particularly disastrous situation and we all have to act as Muslim countries to help this people,” he said. Iran traditionally maintains good relations with Oman, with which it shares control of the key Strait of Hormuz shipping lane. “There are now good conditions for developing and consolidating relations between Iran and Oman,” Rouhani said, calling for stronger economic ties. – Agencies

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