KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15, (Agencies): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday as part of a lightning two-nation Gulf tour aimed at mending ties strained by the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Upon arrival, the Iranian President was received by His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Deputy Chairman of the National Guard Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minster and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al- Saleh, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Minister of Information Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al- Mubarak Al-Sabah and other senior state officials. In addition to Rouhani, the Iranian delegation includes Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chief of Staff of the President of Iran Mohammad Nahavandian and Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, along with other senior Iranian officials.
Rouhani was set to meet HH the Amir who last month launched a dialogue with the Islamic republic to normalise Iran-Gulf ties. Ahead of the trip to Oman and Kuwait, he had expressed support for the latter’s efforts to “resolve misunderstandings and boost relations” with Gulf countries. “In 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. Rouhani’s tour excludes 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 Houthi rebels. Rouhani 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.” 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. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah visited Tehran last month, calling for a “normalisation of ties and opening dialogue”.