• Iran president to visit Oman, Kuwait

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    TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is to visit Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday, state television reported, amid efforts by Kuwait to mend relations between the Gulf Arab states and Tehran.

    The Gulf tour comes after Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah visited Tehran last month to deliver a message from the emir on Gulf-Iranian relations.

    “Gulf states have a true desire that relations with Iran are normal and based on international law,” Sheikh Sabah said at the time, calling for a “normalization of ties and opening dialogue”.

    Iran has had no diplomatic relations with regional kingpin Saudi Arabia since January last year when protesters stormed the kingdom’s missions in Tehran and Mashhad following the execution of a Saudi Shiite Muslim cleric.

    Ties were already strained between the region’s leading Shiite and Sunni powers, which have taken opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and the persistent political unrest in Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Bahrain.

    Kuwait, which has a significant Shiite minority, has sought to maintain relations with Iran. The emir visited Tehran in June 2014.

    Oman has always had good ties with Iran. The sultanate is the only one of the six Gulf Arab states not taking part in the Saudi-led military intervention against Shiite rebels in Yemen.

    It played a key role in the negotiations that led to the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, hosting secret talks between Iranian and US representatives.

    Rouhani visited Muscat in March 2014. Sultan Qaboos visited Tehran in August 2013. AFP

    AFP/CC

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