Iran appoints first UAE ambassador since 2016 as Gulf relations improve

Published April 5, 2023
The Iranian flag is seen flying over a street in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2023.— Reuters
The Iranian flag is seen flying over a street in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2023.— Reuters

Iran said on Tuesday it had appointed an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2016, amid a realignment of relations between Gulf states and Iran.

The move comes after the UAE in August moved to upgrade ties and said it was returning its ambassador to Tehran.

The UAE downgraded relations with Iran after Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

In a step change to years of hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria, Riyadh last month said it would re-establish relations with Tehran in a China-brokered deal.

The UAE, which has business and trade ties with Iran stretching back more than a century, started re-engaging with Tehran in 2019 after attacks in Gulf waters and on Saudi energy sites.

The UAE’s Dubai emirate has long been one of Iran’s main links to the outside world.

Iran’s newly appointed ambassador Reza Ameri had served as the director general of the Iranian expatriates office in the foreign ministry, Iranian state media said

Top Saudi, Iranian diplomats to meet in China

Meanwhile, the top envoys for Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet in Beijing on Thursday, an Iranian official and a Saudi-owned newspaper said, as the two regional rivals work to hash out the next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement amid a China-brokered deal.

The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, will be the first formal meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s most senior diplomats in more than seven years.

“The top envoys agreed to meet on April 6 in Beijing as the deal was facilitated by China,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Choosing China “came as an extension of Beijing’s positive role in reaching the agreement and facilitating communication between the two countries,” Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awasat newspaper cited an unidentified source in Riyadh as saying.

The resumption of the relations that was announced last month and arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors will be discussed in the meeting, it added.

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