Kuwait Emir’s Tehran Trip to Mark ‘New Page’ in Ties, Iran Says

Kuwait’s ruler will travel to Tehran in two weeks, the Iranian foreign ministry said today, signaling a further thaw between the Persian Gulf country and Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah’s will visit Iran on May 31-June 1 at the invitation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told reporters in Tehran today. The visit will mark “a new page” in relations between Kuwait and Iran, she said. It will be the first time Sheikh Sabah visits Iran since becoming Kuwait’s emir in 2006, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency said.

Rouhani, who was inaugurated in August, has called for more engagement with all nations, in particular regional neighbors. The Kuwaiti emir’s trip to Iran comes on the heels of a May 13 announcement that Saudi Arabia has invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit.

Afkham said a trip was in the works.

“A visit from top Iranian officials to Saudi Arabia is on the agenda following the verbal invitation extended and Iran’s initiative in seeking to reinforce relations in the Persian Gulf area,” Afkham said, in comments broadcast live on state-television.

Sunni Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslim-led Iran are on the opposite ends of some of the major crises in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, backs rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally of Iran. Iran’s nuclear program, the subject of negotiations with world powers, has also fanned Gulf states’ concerns that it may be seeking to dominate the oil-rich region.

“We hope talks and cooperation will help the region’s nations reach similar views and resolve regional issues,” Afkham said.

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