BEIRUT Kuwait’s foreign minister made a rare visit to Tehran on Wednesday and called for frank dialogue between Iran and its regional neighbours, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
Tensions have rocketed between Iran, which is predominantly Shi’ite, and the Sunni Arab countries of the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, because of them being on opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Sabah Khaled al-Sabah’s visit appeared to be a first step towards decreasing tension.
“It’s necessary that the differing views and misunderstandings between the countries of the region should come to an end in a calm atmosphere and through frank dialogue,” Sabah said, according to IRNA, a reference to Gulf Arab states who worry that Iranian influence in the region is growing at their expense.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif commended Kuwait for its role in trying to improve relations.
“The role of the emir of Kuwait in supporting positive neighbourly relations between countries in the region is worthy of praise,” Zarif said, according to IRNA.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in January 2016 cut diplomatic relations with Iran and some other Gulf states recalled their ambassadors in solidarity with the oil-rich kingdom after its embassy in Iran was torched by protesters.
But long-standing trade links and shared access to oil and gas fields have stopped many Gulf states from shutting the door on Iran.
(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh)