The United Arab Emirates foreign minister will visit Iran on Thursday, Iran’s state news agency reported, just days after Tehran and world powers struck an interim nuclear accord which has caused Gulf Arab misgivings.
IRNA said the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed would meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other officials. It did not disclose the purpose of the talks.
Tension between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab rulers has been heightened by political turmoil across the Middle East. Gulf Arab ministerial visits to Iran are rare.
This month Sheikh Abdullah urged Iran to address issues straining ties with Gulf Arab states, including border disputes, policy on Syria’s civil war and its nuclear programme.
The UAE and Iran, regional rivals but also trade partners, both lay claim to the islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 per cent of the world’s seaborne oil exports.
Iran has held the islands since 1971, shortly before the seven Gulf emirates gained full independence from Britain and formed the UAE, now allied with the United States.
The West accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is for power generation and medical purposes only.
Gulf Arab states gave the interim nuclear agreement a cautious welcome, with Iran’s regional arch-foe Saudi Arabia saying that with goodwill it could lead to a wider solution.
However, the Saudis and their Gulf Arab allies fear the deal will strengthen Iran’s regional position at their expense.