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Gulf peace hopes in Amir Iran visit Major leap in ties

KUWAIT CITY, May 26, (Agencies): Kuwait expressed its hopes on Monday that a landmark visit by His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to visit Iran next week will strengthen security, stability and peace in the Gulf. The visit comes amid a recent thaw in relations between Shiite Iran and the Sunni-ruled Gulf states despite high sectarian tensions over the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Sheikh Sabah, on his first visit to Tehran as head of state, will lead a high level delegation consisting of the ministers of foreign affairs, oil, finance and commerce and industry, the cabinet said in a statement. It said it hoped the visit “would boost cooperation in various fields,” as well as strengthening “security, stability and peace in the region,” in the statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The two-day visit will start on June 1, the cabinet said. Iran’s newly-appointed ambassador to Kuwait Ali Riza told reporters on Monday the Amir’s visit “will give a push to regional cooperation and consolidate ties”. He said Sheikh Sabah’s talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will touch on the Syrian conflict and the situation in the Gulf. Kuwait currently holds the rotating presidency of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The Iranian envoy said he expected the a number of cooperation agreements in fields including aviation, tourism, sports to be signed. For years, Iran’s relations with the Gulf states have been frosty, with disagreements over unrest in Bahrain and the conflict in Syria, before Rouhani, a self-declared moderate, was elected president of the Islamic republic last June. In December last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif started a tour of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

But it ended without Zarif travelling to Iran’s main rival, Saudi Arabia. Two weeks ago, Riyadh’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al- Faisal said he had invited his Iranian counterpart to visit. Tehran welcomed the plan and stressed the need to boost relations after years of strained ties.

After his election, Rouhani said he wanted to reach out to Gulf Arab governments as part of efforts to end his country’s international isolation. Iran’s Ambassador to Kuwait Ali Akbar Anayati described His Highness the Amir’s visit to Tehran, as a major development and push to relations between the two nations. “The planned visit signals a major development in the future relations between the two nations,” Anayati said in a press conference Sunday.

He stated that the visit comes in response to an official invitation from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to His Highness the Amir to discuss means to bolster bilateral ties. He pointed out that His Highness the Amir’s visit will crown a series of joint efforts exerted in the past few months to upgrade and buttress bilateral relations and cooperation in different domains. Anayati cited as examples the recent meetings of the joint economic, trade and diplomatic committees as well as the joint meeting of the officials of the coast guards of Kuwait and Iran.

He added that the talks between His Highness the Amir and Iranian leaders would tackle bilateral relations, regional developments and issues of common concern. The Ambassador expected that a number of cooperation agreements in the domains of civil aviation, tourism, and sports would be signed during the visit.

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