Iran president eyes better ties with Gulf Arabs during trip

 Reuters International

FEB 15, 2017 – 
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes part in a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country sought good relations with its Gulf Arab neighbours as he began a one-day trip to Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday, his first since taking power in 2013.

Relations between predominantly Shi’ite Iran and the mainly Sunni Arab countries of the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, remain strained over their support for opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

“The basis of the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is always good neighbourly relations with neighbours and the security of the Persian Gulf,” Rouhani said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Rouhani also said there should be greater unity between Shi’ites and Sunnis, saying they had “coexisted side by side peacefully for hundreds of years”, IRNA reported.

Omani state news agency ONA reported that the country’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, welcomed Rouhani with a 21 gun salute when he arrived at the al-Alam Palace in the capital Muscat. Omani media showed Qaboos receiving Rouhani outside the palace, the sultan’s second public appearance since he returned from medical checks in Germany in April last year.

The agency said the two sides discussed ways for enhancing bilateral cooperation but gave no further details. Oman helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to the historic nuclear deal signed in Geneva two years later.

Qaboos became the first Arab head of state to visit Iran after Rouhani took office.

READ MORE:    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/iran-president-says-wants-good-ties-with-gulf-ahead-of-regional-trip/42962046

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