DUBAI: Iran’s top security official held high-level talks in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday as Tehran seeks greater outreach to Gulf states amid mounting tensions with the West over the country’s nuclear work and its drone sales to Russia.
The visit by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani comes days after Tehran and Riyadh reached a China-facilitated deal to re-establish relations and re-open embassies within two months after years of hostility.
“Considering the suitable platforms that have been created since a year ago for the development of relations between Iran and the UAE, I see this trip as a new stage for political, economic and security relations,” said Shamkhani in Abu Dhabi, Iranian state media reported.
The UAE downgraded its diplomatic ties with Iran after Riyadh severed its ties with Tehran in 2016 following the storming of the Saudi embassy in the Islamic Republic by hardline protesters over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric.
After years of animosity on different sides of geo-political rivalries, the UAE started re-engaging with Tehran in 2019.
It resulted in upgraded diplomatic ties last year between Iran and the UAE, which has business and trade ties with Tehran stretching back more than a century, with Dubai emirate long being one of Iran’s main links to the outside world.
Growing worries about warming relations between Israel and its former Arab foes, including normalisation agreements between Israel and some Arab nations known as the Abraham Accords, have pushed Tehran’s clerical rulers to pursue regional detente.
Tension between Iran and the West have mounted over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as the Islamic Republic’s clampdown on months of anti-government-protests. Tehran denies selling drones to Moscow for use in the Ukraine war.
The Islamic Republic’s arch-foe, Israel has threatened to carry out military attacks if world powers fail to salvage Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact. Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington have stalled since September.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump reneged on the accord in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions. In response, Tehran breached the deal in several ways, including by rebuilding stocks of enriched uranium.