Iran launches charm offensive among wary Gulf Arabs

By REUTERS
July 26, 2015 13:46
1 minute read.

 
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Iran's foreign minister began a charm offensive in the Gulf on Sunday to defend a nuclear deal seen by some Arab states as heralding greater Iranian support for armed groups and governments opposed to the hereditary monarchies.

Most Gulf Arab states are worried that Iran's July 14 accord with world powers will hasten detente between Tehran and Washington, emboldening Tehran to increase backing for Middle Eastern allies at odds with Gulf Arab countries.

The minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, began a one-day, three-country tour by visiting Kuwait. He was due to go on to Qatar and then Iraq.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, accompanying Zarif, said the goal of this visit was "strengthening ties and developing cooperation is all the fields" with Iran's neighbors.

"The fight against extremism and violence as well as strengthening regional ties are a fundamental necessity to achieve sustainable development and security in the region," Amir-Abdollahian told Iran's state news broadcaster.

Most Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf Arab states have long accused Tehran of interference in Arab affairs, alleging financial or armed support for political movements in countries including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.

Shi'ite power Iran denies interference but says the nuclear deal will not change its policies in the region.

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