UAE, improving ties with Iran, says envoy to return to Tehran in days

Aug 21 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that its ambassador to Iran, Saif Mohammed Al Zaabi, would return to Tehran “in the coming days”, more than six years after the Gulf Arab state severed ties with the Islamic Republic.

The move is in line with the UAE’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with Iran “to achieve the common interests of both countries and the wider region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UAE downgraded its ties with Iran after Saudi Arabia severed its own ties with Tehran in January 2016. The move follows the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters after Riyadh executed a prominent Shia cleric.

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After years of animosity from different sides of geopolitical rivalries, the UAE began re-engaging with Tehran in 2019 following attacks in Gulf waters and on Saudi energy sites amid heightened tensions after Washington has renounced the world powers’ nuclear pact with Iran.

Last year, the Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia moved to improve relations with enemy Shia Muslim Iran with five rounds of direct talks so far. It comes at a time when Arab Gulf states are closely monitoring efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear pact, which they say is flawed for failing to address Iran’s missile program and behavior.

Although Riyadh and Abu Dhabi want to end Tehran’s push for dominance in the region, they also want to contain tensions by focusing on economic priorities.

The UAE has had trade relations with Iran for more than a century, with the emirate of Dubai long being one of Iran’s main ties to the outside world.

Kuwait, another Gulf state, earlier this month appointed its first ambassador to Iran since 2016. Then, in solidarity with Riyadh, it recalled its envoy to Tehran while maintaining relations as part of a balanced foreign policy.

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Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Written by Nayera Abdallah and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by David Clarke and Gareth Jones

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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