Bahrain Supports (P)GCC Talks With Iran

Bahrain Supports (P)GCC Talks With IranBahrain Supports (P)GCC Talks With Iran

Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, the top diplomat of Bahrain which is a member of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, reaffirmed the council's determination to press on with fence-mending talks with Iran.

Long-running disputes culminated in Saudi Arabia's decision to unilaterally sever diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic in January 2016 following the storming of its diplomatic posts by Iranian protestors enraged by the Saudi execution of top Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who they said was convicted without due process of law.

Bahrain followed suit, while Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE recalled their envoys, and Oman simply expressed regret over the event.

However, a daylong visit by top Kuwaiti diplomat, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, to Tehran in late January to relay a message of dialogue on behalf of the (P)GCC revived the prospect of an end to the chill.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Kuwait on Sunday, Khalifa said, "Bahrain welcomes efforts by Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to facilitate consultations with Tehran. Diplomatic talks with the Islamic Republic are ongoing."

"Manama is hopeful that positive results will come out of the [Iran] talks," IRNA quoted Khalifa as saying.

Following Sabah's visit, President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Oman and Kuwait in February upon the separate invitations of the two country's leaders.

He held talks with Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Kuwait's emir and other top officials of the two Arab countries.

Iranian officials have signaled willingness to help defuse tensions with the Persian Gulf littoral states.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Qatar in early March and met his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, and the sheikhdom's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Iran's Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said later in the same month the Islamic Republic is open to engagement with Arab states.

"The Kuwaiti emir's envoy had earlier come to Iran and said that the Persian Gulf littoral states intend to improve ties with Iran and Iran's position is also clear in this regard and we have always been interested in peace and stability with the neighboring states," Nobakht said.

(P)GCC members, particularly Saudi Arabia, accuse Tehran of interfering in Arab countries.

Those charges have been denied by Iran and some of the countries concerned.

Iraq and Syria say Iran plays no further role beyond extending advisory services in their fight against terrorists.

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