Iran top diplomat in Kuwait on third leg of Gulf tour

Iran’s top diplomat arrived in Kuwait Wednesday, the third leg of a Gulf tour that saw him hold “constructive” talks with his Omani counterpart in Muscat earlier in the day.

It came a day after Tehran held discussions in Doha on its nuclear programme with Qatari and European Union officials, the latest in a flurry of diplomatic moves by the Islamic republic as it seeks to reduce its isolation, improve its economy and project strength.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s tour of the Gulf will see the Iranian foreign minister also making a stop in the United Arab Emirates.

Gulf countries are seeking to ease tensions with Iran fuelled in recent years by the conflicts in Yemen and Syria. Most dramatically, China brokered an agreement in March between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties after a years-long rupture.

On Wednesday, Amir-Abdollahian discussed “the latest developments in the regional and international scene” in a meeting with Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, according to Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA.

“The resolution of challenges with the collective participation of countries in the region is the best way to achieve the progress of nations and ensure security in the Persian Gulf,” Amir-Abdollahian tweeted after the meeting.

Earlier on Wednesday, he met with Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi of Oman, mediator in indirect talks between Iran and its sworn enemy the United States over its suspect nuclear programme and a possible prisoner swap.

The Omani minister said they discussed “continued consultations and cooperation” on issues of bilateral concern.

“There is great consensus in the visions of the two states on a series of issues… that will contribute to stability, security and peace,” he said, quoted by the official Oman News Agency.

Amir-Abdollahian called the meeting “constructive” and praised the effective cooperation between the two sides, ONA said.

– ‘Diplomat channels open’ –

Iran said last week it had been engaged in indirect negotiations with the United States through Oman, with nuclear issues, US sanctions and detainees on the agenda.

The following day, Iran’s nuclear negotiator said he had met with diplomats from three European countries in Abu Dhabi to discuss a number of issues including the country’s nuclear programme.

A landmark deal reached in 2015 between Iran and world powers was designed to prevent Tehran from secretly developing a nuclear bomb, a goal the Islamic republic has always denied.

The United States under then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018, before Iran began backing away from its own commitments, including by stepping up its enrichment of uranium.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to revive the deal, but the process has stalled in on-off talks since 2021.

In recent weeks, Iran and the United States have denied media reports that they were close to reaching an interim deal to replace the 2015 accord.

In Doha on Tuesday, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri, held talks with the European Union’s Iran nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora.

“I had a serious and constructive meeting with Enrique Mora in Doha,” he said on social media on Wednesday.

“We discussed and exchanged opinions on a range of issues, including negotiations to lift sanctions.”

EU spokesperson Peter Stano confirmed the meeting. He said the bloc was “keeping diplomatic channels open, including through this meeting in Doha, to address all issues of concern with Iran”.

Amir-Abdollahian also discussed “developments in the nuclear agreement” with his Qatari counterpart, according to the official Qatar News Agency.

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