UAE to send delegation to Iran soon to improve ties with Tehran

Dec 1, 2021: A senior UAE official said on Tuesday that the country would soon send a delegation to Iran in an effort to improve relations with rival Tehran.

“I hope that it is the sooner the better and all our friends are aware of it,” Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, told reporters when asked when a UAE delegation would hold talks in Tehran.

He said the idea was to “turn a new page” in the relationship. Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, met with Gargash and other Emirati officials on November 24 during an extraordinary visit.

The UAE began engaging with Iran in 2019 after attacks on tankers and Saudi energy infrastructure on Gulf waters. Saudi Arabia began direct talks with Iran in April, with Riyadh calling the talks “cordial” but largely exploratory.

He said Abu Dhabi still expressed concerns about Iran’s regional activities but wanted to work harder to improve relations.

Asked if the UAE was co-ordinating with Saudi Arabia on its actions against Iran, he said he was keeping his regional allies “in the picture”. The warm relations come at a time when indirect talks are under way in Vienna between Iran and the United States and other world powers to try to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which Gulf states have criticised for not addressing Tehran’s missile programme and regional proxies.

He said the UAE had expressed Saudi Arabia’s concern over rocket attacks on Saudi cities by Yemen’s Houthi movement linked to Iran.

Riyadh and its allies accuse Iran of supplying arms to the group, but both deny the allegations. The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen, but largely ended its military presence on the ground in 2019.

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