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Iran says it wants closer ties with UAE as relations thaw after six frosty years

Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian tells new Emirati ambassador that region’s countries need to cooperate for the sake of stability

Illustrative: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian listens to a journalist's question during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 31, 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Illustrative: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian listens to a journalist's question during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 31, 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s top diplomat said Wednesday his country wants to boost relations with the United Arab Emirates, welcoming an Emirati ambassador back to Tehran after a six-year absence.

The UAE and other Gulf states had scaled back their ties with the Islamic Republic in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in Iran following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

“We would like to broaden our relations with our neighbors, including the United Arab Emirates,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the new Emirati ambassador, Saif Mohammed al-Zaabi, when they met Tuesday, according to an official statement released early Wednesday.

Despite the diplomatic downgrade, the oil-rich UAE has maintained strong economic ties with the Islamic Republic.

In 2020, the UAE established diplomatic relations with Israel, a move which Tehran condemned.

But Abu Dhabi has been pursuing a policy of rapprochement with former regional rivals including Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

Amir-Abdollahian “also stressed the need for the region’s countries to cooperate for the sake of regional stability,” according to the ministry’s statement.

In July, the UAE said it was considering sending an ambassador back to Tehran with the aim of “boosting bilateral ties,” state media reported at the time.

Iran said last month that Kuwait had sent its first ambassador to Tehran since 2016.

Two Middle Eastern powerhouses, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, have both expressed willingness to overcome their disputes and were engaged in bilateral talks, which were first made public in April 2021.

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