A senior Iranian official visited the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, just days after Tehran agreed to restore diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in a Chinese-brokered deal that raised hopes of a broader rapprochement across Middle East.
Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said his visit was a “meaningful beginning for the two countries to enter a new stage of political, economic and security relations,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. It said he was accompanied by the head of Iran’s central bank and other senior officials.
He met with the president of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and other senior officials to discuss “opportunities for enhancing cooperation between the two countries,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency reported.
Sunni Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf have viewed Iran with suspicion since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled a U.S.-allied monarch in Tehran. Relations have worsened since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, as Shiite-majority Iran has spread its influence across the region and supported powerful armed proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian territories.
In the Chinese-brokered agreement, which built on talks held in Iraq in recent years, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties which were severed in 2016, when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and Iranian protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran.
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