President Visits Persian Gulf States to Foster Bonds
President Hassan Rouhani visited the Persian Gulf Arab states of Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday in his first trip to Iran's southern Arab neighbors since becoming president in 2013.
The daylong visit was apparently in response to a message of the six-member (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council delivered to Tehran by Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Al-Khalid Al-Sabah in late January.
Sabah's visit was the first since Iran's already tenuous relations with some Persian Gulf neighbors were damaged early 2016.
Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in January 2016, using as an excuse attacks on its diplomatic missions in Iran by protesters angered over the Saudi execution of top Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr without due process of law.
Some of its allies followed in its footsteps by recalling ambassadors, except Oman, which only expressed regret over the attack.
This was while Iran condemned the attack and prosecuted perpetrators.
Since then, Iran has repeatedly called for dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh to resolve divisions, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are at odds over several issues, including conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Speaking to reporters before his departure for Oman's capital Muscat on Wednesday, Rouhani said Tehran welcomes (P)GCC's message about their willingness to boost relations with Iran and clear up misunderstandings through dialogue.
"Iran wants promotion of ties with regional and neighboring countries, and strengthening of stability, security and development across the region," President.ir quoted him as saying.
The Iranian president reiterated that Iran's foreign policy is based on good neighborliness, stressing that Tehran neither seeks invasion or interference in the internal affairs of other countries nor plans to impose its religious and political ideas on others.
Friendship Benefits Regional Security
Accompanied by a delegation of Iranian ministers, advisors and businessmen, the Iranian president arrived in Muscat on Wednesday morning at the invitation of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.
Oman's state news agency ONA reported that after the welcoming ceremony, Rouhani and Sultan Qaboos held a session behind closed doors, in which they discussed ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation and regional developments.
After the meeting, senior delegations of the two countries met in a session co-chaired by Rouhani and Qaboos.
Qaboos said in the meeting that his country is keen on strengthening bonds of friendship with Iran, particularly in political, economic and cultural fields.
Praising Iran's openness toward greater cooperation with regional countries, Qaboos said closer relations between Iran and other regional states is to the benefit of regional development, security and stability.
Rouhani departed for Kuwait City on Wednesday evening, at the invitation of Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
In Kuwait, the Iranian president was scheduled to hold talks with Kuwait's emir, Prime Minister Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah.