Kuwaiti makes rare visit to Iran to build relations


Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Kuwait's emir began a visit to Iran on Sunday, the first by a ruler of the U.S.-allied Persian Gulf Arab state since the 1979 Islamic revolution, underscoring improving ties between Tehran and its Arab neighbors.

Regional television stations showed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani escorting Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah to review an Iranian honor guard upon the emir's arrival in Tehran.

Mr. Rouhani, elected last year, has been trying to lead Shiite Muslim Iran out of years of isolation, and his decision to engage with world powers in talks about Tehran's nuclear program has been welcomed by some in the Sunni Muslim states on the other side of the Gulf.

Kuwait, home to a sizable Shiite minority, is seen by some as a potential bridge between Iran and the Gulf Arab states, including the main power Saudi Arabia, with which relations remain strained, not least because of opposing stances over Syria's civil war.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday he could not take up an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia to attend a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation later this month because the proposed dates clashed with planned nuclear negotiations with world powers.

Sheikh Sabah, a former Kuwaiti foreign minister, is described by analysts as one of the region's most active diplomats, often acting as a mediator.

The emir's visit comes at "a critical time and amid complicated changes in the region," said Ali Anayati, Iran's ambassador to Kuwait, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported. He said the visit would start a "new chapter of bilateral cooperation".

Both leaders want to "create a safe and stable regional system based on non-interference in other countries' internal affairs," he said.

The emir heads a delegation that includes the foreign minister and oil minister, Iranian news agency IRNA said.

The visit follows Mr. Zarif's tour of the Middle East in December after Tehran signed an interim nuclear deal with world powers. Kuwait said it hoped the deal would help regional stability and security.

Saudi Arabia, which backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a close ally of Iran, sees the Shiite power as one of its biggest threats.

Gulf Arab states, like Western powers, suspect Iran has been using its nuclear power program as a front to develop weapons capability.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have also accused Iran of stirring up their Shiite communities to revolt. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and denies interference in those countries' affairs.


Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here