First Published: 2017-02-15

Iran's Rouhani crosses Gulf on tour to improve relations
Iranian president visits Oman as he sets off on tour of Gulf neighbours with whom relations have been strained over regional conflicts.
Middle East Online

Iran has had no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia since January 2016

MUSCAT - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday for talks to improve relations with Gulf neighbours, strained by the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

He was welcomed by Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, where the two discussed bilateral relations and the situation in the region, Oman's official ONA news agency reported.

"Tehran has always been in favour of resolving problems and disputes through dialogue," Rouhani said, according to Iranian media. "Iran's military power is only defensive".

"There are now good conditions for developing and consolidating relations between Iran and Oman," he added, calling for stronger economic ties.

Iran traditionally maintains good relations with the sultanate, with which it shares control of the key Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

Rouhani was later set to meet Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who last month launched a dialogue with the Islamic republic to normalise Iran-Gulf ties.

Before leaving Tehran, Rouhani had expressed support for Kuwait-led efforts to "resolve misunderstandings and boost relations" with Gulf countries, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.

"In this trip, there will be discussions about the region, the situation in Iraq, Syria and in particular in Yemen," he said.

The two-nation tour does not include regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Iran's key rival.

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 Huthi rebels.

In Oman, he appealed for a ceasefire, increased humanitarian aid and political dialogue to resolve the Yemen conflict.

"Today, the Yemenis are in a particularly disastrous situation and we all have to act as Muslim countries to help this people," he said.

- Gulf dialogue hopes -

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah visited Tehran last month, calling for a "normalisation of ties and opening dialogue".

Kuwait's deputy foreign minister Khaled al-Jarallah said in remarks published Wednesday that he hopes Rouhani visit to open a dialogue between the Gulf states and Iran.

The elements needed for the dialogue, which were included in the emir's letter, call for non-interference in the internal affairs of the Gulf states, respecting their sovereignty and establishing good neighbouring relations, Jarallah said in the comments published in Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper.

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, where 30 percent of native citizens are Shiites, has maintained normal relations with Tehran despite taking part in the Saudi-led military campaign on Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels.

Iran has had no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia since January 2016, when demonstrators stormed the kingdom's missions in Tehran and Mashhad in protest at the execution of a Saudi Shiite Muslim cleric.

Ties were already strained between the region's leading Shiite and Sunni powers, which have taken opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Oman, which has a significant Shiite minority, has historically had good ties with Iran, with which it shares control of the Strait of Hormuz.

The sultanate is the only one of the six Gulf Arab states not taking part in the Saudi-led military intervention against the Huthis in Yemen.

 

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

Saudi king to launch 'entertainment city'

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China

Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

French MPs adopt controversial immigration bill

Qatar Airways ‘robust’ despite large losses

IS threatens to attack Iraqi polling station

Jordan sounds the alarm over rising online crimes

Yemen forces clash with jihadists in Taez

Paris attacks suspect gets 20 years over Brussels shootout

Jailed Egyptian photographer wins UN press freedom prize

14 Saddam-era officials still jailed in Iraq

Gaza death toll rises to 40 as Palestinian dies of wounds

HRW says African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Four British pilgrims killed in Saudi road crash

HRW warns Egypt fight against IS threatens humanitarian crisis

Iran, Israel trade blame for surge in hostilities over Syria

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy