The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

June 2017, No. 84

Trade & Business


Rouhani Seeks to Mend Ties
with Persian Gulf Countries

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council summit held in Manama in December asked Kuwait to initiate contacts with Tehran to start a dialogue to improve ties.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Kuwait City on Feb. 15 as part of a lightning two-nation Persian Gulf tour aimed at mending ties strained by the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Rouhani met Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who last month launched a dialogue with the Islamic Republic to normalize ties between Iran and the Persian Gulf states.

Ahead of the trip to Oman and Kuwait, Rouhani had expressed support for the latter’s efforts to “resolve misunderstandings and boost relations” with the Persian Gulf countries.

“In this trip, there will be discussions about the region, the situation in Iraq, Syria and in particular in Yemen,” Rouhani said before launching the tour.

Before arriving in Kuwait City, Rouhani was welcomed by Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, where the two discussed bilateral relations and the situation in the region.

“Tehran has always been in favor of resolving problems and disputes through dialogue,” Rouhani said. “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.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah visited Tehran in January, calling for a “normalization of ties and opening dialogue”.

Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister Khaled al-Jarallah said in remarks published in mid-February that he hoped Rouhani visit would open a dialogue between the Persian Gulf states and Iran.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council summit held in Manama in December asked Kuwait to initiate contacts with Tehran to start a dialogue to improve ties.

Kuwait, where 30 per cent of native citizens are Shias, has maintained normal relations with Tehran despite taking part in the Saudi-led military campaign on Yemen’s Shia Huthi rebels.

Will for Amity

After Rouhani’s visit to Oman and Kuwait, Iran said it shares a will with the two Persian Gulf countries to boost mutual friendliness.

“The visits, which took place at a time when the region is in special and sensitive circumstances, indicate the countries’ common will to expand friendly ties across the strategic waters of the Persian Gulf,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on February 16.

Rouhani visited the countries at separate invitations sent to him by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos and Kuwait’s Emir al-Sabah.

PGCC ties with Iran began to deteriorate last year amid the confrontational approach taken by the new Saudi rulers against Tehran.

Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran last January. It took the move after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the Islamic Republic earlier against its execution of venerable Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Qassemi said the Omani Sultan and the Kuwait Emir have always sought enhanced relations with Iran.

Beyond bilateral relations, the two leaders have invariably pursued the creation of a collective mechanism joining the Islamic Republic and regional countries in dialog on regional stability and threats as well as common concerns, including terrorism and extremism.

During Rouhani’s Kuwait City trip, the Kuwaiti Emir expressed satisfaction and delight about Iran’s constructive approach towards efforts to reduce tension with neighboring Arab states.

Also lending importance to Rouhani’s visits, Qassemi said that self-serving efforts by some extra-regional countries over the past weeks were to alienate Islamic countries from one another.

“The visits and the far-reaching reception showed that the extra-regional powers’ provocative policies have backfired,” the official added.

Earlier, reports emerged that the administration of US President Donald Trump was encouraging Arab states to join Israel in an anti-Iran alliance.

Observers have already warned that such alliance threatens to reverse long-running diplomatic efforts by various parties at bringing the regional players together.

During his visit, the Iranian President was accompanied by an official delegation including Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Nahavandian, Chief of Staff of Presidential Office,  Mohammadreza Nematzadeh, Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, Dr. Valiollah Seif, Governor of Central Bank of Iran. 

Iranophobia Plot

Speaking at a meeting with Sultan Qaboos in Muscat on the first leg of his tour, Rouhani said the common enemies of Islam and the regional Arab countries have been propagating Iranophobia while Tehran’s power has always served peace.

“Tehran has always been the harbinger of the settlement of problems and differences through dialogue, and Iran’s military might is solely defensive and supports regional security,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian President stressed that the region’s security could be guaranteed only through cooperation among regional countries. “Therefore, the regional countries need to stand by each other and cooperate for the sake of lasting stability and security in the region,” he added.

Describing Iran and Oman as the “guardians of the Strait of Hormuz,” Rouhani underlined the two countries’ role in safeguarding the security of the region and the strategic route for international trade. He also welcomed the expansion of ties between Iran and other countries of the region.

Iran has come to the help of regional countries whenever they were entangled in challenges, including terrorism, and will continue to render assistance to them if they demand it, he noted.

He also described Muscat-Tehran relations “friendly and deep-rooted,” and welcomed the promotion of ties in different sectors, including economy, transportation, energy and trade. 

Muslim Countries Urged to Help Yemen

Touching on the conflicts in the region, including in Yemen, the Iranian President described the situation in the impoverished Arab state as “very grave” and called for serious action to address the issue.

Establishment of a ceasefire, delivery of humanitarian aid and intra-Yemeni talks are the key to ending the crisis in the country, he added.

Sultan Qaboos, for his part, welcomed the expansion of ties between his country and Iran in the political, economic and cultural sectors. He praised Iran’s resolve to hold amicable ties with its neighbors and promote regional cooperation, saying such a policy would serve the region’s peace and security. The Omani ruler added that the countries of the Persian Gulf region had a “prime responsibility” to restore regional security through “consultations.”

Iran Ready to Develop All-Out Ties with Kuwait

During his meeting with Kuwait’s Emir in Kuwait City, Rouhani stressed that the two countries have close political ties and that their economic relations must follow the suit.

“Iran is fully prepared for the development of all-out ties, including joint investments in diverse projects, with Kuwait,” he said.

For his part, Sheikh Sabah stressed that his country is adamant to increase relations with Iran in all fields.   

Kuwait Welcomes Prospects for Iran-PG Cooperation

Kuwaiti deputy foreign minister welcomed prospects for cooperation between Iran and the Persian Gulf Arab countries to help resolve conflicts in the region.

Dialogue between Iran and the Persian Gulf Arab countries would “contribute effectively to containment of many areas of tension in the region, whether in Yemen or in Syria or anywhere else in our region,” Kuwait’s state news agency, KUNA, quoted Jarallah as saying at a reception at Iran’s embassy in the Arab country.

“This is indeed what we are looking for,” the Kuwaiti official added, noting that dialogue would serve the interests of both Iran and the Persian Gulf Arab countries.

The senior Kuwaiti diplomat made the comments in response to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments on the country’s relations with regional states, including those in the Persian Gulf region.


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  June 2017
No. 84