London and Kuwait – Kuwait’s foreign minister Sabah Khaled al-Sabah made a rare visit to Iran during which he delivered a written message from the Emir of Kuwait to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. The minister also met with Iranian FM Mohammed Javad Zarif.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry reported that the Kuwaiti official called during his meetings with both the President and the FM for frank dialogue between Iran and its regional neighbors.
He said Gulf Arab nations hope ties “with Iran will normalize” and that Iran and Arab countries should be “regional partners”.
He added that relations between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of six Arab states “must be based on the U.N. Charter and principles of international law.”
“It’s necessary that the differing views and misunderstandings between the countries of the region come to an end in a calm atmosphere and through frank dialogue,” Sabah said.
Upon receiving the letter, Rouhani also said cooperation was needed to fight terrorism with “unity, integrity and helping” each other. He defended his country’s role in the region.
Despite constant official requests for Iran to stop interfering, Rouhani stressed that his country exerts all efforts to help countries of the region against terrorism.
Referring to Iran’s commitment and efforts in helping the nations and the states of the region in their fight against terrorism, Rouhani added: “Terrorism is a great threat to the region and we can resist against it through unity, integrity and helping each other.”
Iran is the greatest supporter to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is on the GCC’s list of terrorist organizations.
In 2016, GCC, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states.
Iran’s foreign policy is under fire due to Rouhani’s government failure in improving relations with states of the GCC, which the government attributed to its engagement in the nuclear negotiations.
Tehran is seeking to open dialogue channels with Riyadh, which cut all official relations with Iran following attacks by protesters on two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran in January 2016. Then, Bahrain and some other Gulf states recalled their ambassadors in solidarity with the kingdom.
Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported that Sheikh Sabah also discussed with his Iranian counterpart latest developments and matters relating to both countries.
Zarif commended Kuwait for its role in trying to improve relations. “The role of the Emir of Kuwait in supporting positive neighborly relations between countries in the region is worthy of praise,” Zarif said.
In the meeting, the two ministers exchanged views on issues of mutual interest along with regional developments.
“Expansion of relations and cooperation with the neighboring states is among Iranian diplomacy’s priorities,” Zarif said.
Zarif described Kuwait as one of Iran’s good neighbors which plays significant role in the region, adding that the role of the Kuwaiti Emir in bolstering good neighborly relations is praiseworthy.
The Kuwaiti foreign minister, for his part, highlighted the significant role of Iran in the region and the globe and said the two countries share many historical, cultural and religious values.
Sheikh Khalid added that all should put aside their differences and remove existing misunderstanding to help restore a calm atmosphere through establishing blatant talks.
Kuwaiti political analyst Ayed al-Manna believes that the Kuwaiti FM’s visit to Iran represents the GCC, adding that the purpose of this visit is to explore possible cooperation between Iran and the GCC countries in order to establish normal relations based on mutual interests.
The analyst believes that if Iran wants to establish good relations with the GCC countries, then they would definitely want to do the same.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Manna said one of the obstacles is Iran’s interference in internal affairs of the Arab states, including in Bahrain and Yemen which can be described as hostile interference and contradicts with national security of the council.
He added that Tehran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria jeopardizes Arab national security.
The analyst believes that if Iran seeks new relations with Gulf states, then it should stop its intrusion and solve the issue of the three Emirati islands as well as other border issues with Kuwait.
Manna concluded that countries of the Gulf are willing to build strong political, economic, and cultural relations with Iran if the latter doesn’t violate those countries’ sovereignty.