Last updated: 5 December, 2013

Iranian parliament speaker in Oman seeking better Gulf ties

Iranian overtures towards Gulf Arab countries after Tehran signed a landmark nuclear deal with world powers are to keep “brothers” updated, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Thursday.

Visits by top officials to the monarchies “are normal, because Iran considers the countries in the region to be friends”, Larijani told reporters in Muscat after meeting Sultan Qaboos.

“They are our brothers, and we respect them and think that they should be aware of all developments,” he said.

Iran is locked in a decades-long rivalry with Saudi Arabia, while some other mainly Sunni Gulf countries are wary of the ambitions of their neighbour across the water.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country in the region, with whom we have dated strong links,” he said.

“We may have different viewpoints on some issues, but we hope that Islamic unity will work to settle all pending issues,” he said, according to an Arabic interpretation of his remarks.

Larijani held talks with Sultan Qaboos who enjoys strong links with Tehran.

“The good relations between the two friendly countries were discussed during the meeting, as well as the various levels of existing bilateral cooperation,” the official ONA news agency said.

“Iran has all respect for the vision of the sultan, which takes Omani-Iranian relations to top levels,” it quoted Larijani as saying in a meeting with his counterpart, the head of the Majlis al-Shura consultative council, Khalid al-Mawali.

The visit follows a Gulf tour by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who praised Oman during his stop in Muscat on Sunday for its role in the negotiations between Iran and world powers that paved the way for the nuclear deal.

Zarif’s tour, which also took in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, was aimed at assuring Gulf countries that the deal over its disputed nuclear programme is in their interest.

Sultan Qaboos has acted as an intermediary between Western countries and the Islamic republic in the past.

Reports say the sultanate hosted secret talks between Iran and the United States in the lead-up to the nuclear accord.

World powers, Arab states in the Gulf and Israel suspect Tehran’s nuclear ambitions include acquiring a nuclear weapon, a charge it vehemently denies.