Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to start Wednesday a visit to Oman, Kuwait

Rouhani’s visit to the two Gulf countries follows the call of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) to start strategic dialogue with Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be in Kuwait on Wednesday on an official visit, his first to the northern Arabian Gulf country since he took office in August 2013.

The visit to Kuwait is part of a one-day tour by Rouhani that will take him to Oman earlier on the day.

“The visit to Oman will take place at the invitation of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said and is to take place on Wednesday morning,” Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (Irna) reported.

“On Wednesday afternoon, President Rouhani and his accompanying delegation will depart Muscat for Kuwait upon an invitation from the Emir of Kuwait Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. President Rouhani will return to Iran on Wednesday evening.”

In Kuwait, Rouhani will have private talks with Shaikh Sabah before he and his accompanying delegation meet the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, the news agency added, quoting a report from the Presidential Office communication bureau.

The delegation accompanying Rouhani includes cabinet ministers, president’s advisors and representatives from the private sector.

Sources told Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah that Rouhani’s visit is linked to the message from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to Iran to start a strategic dialogue.

The message was conveyed last month by Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah to Rouhani in Tehran.

The GCC countries agreed at their summit in Manama in December to send a message to their neighbour that would centre on starting a dialogue based on the principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and respect for the sovereignty of other countries, the official said.

“These are international principles that we all share and we could use them as the premise to start a dialogue,” a GCC official said.

Relations between the GCC and Iran have been plummeting since 2011 and in January last year, Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic relations with Tehran following mob attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and on the General Consulate in the northern city of Mashhad. Bahrain also cut off diplomatic ties with Iran, while other GCC countries downgraded them.

The GCC have long voiced concern that the nuclear agreement reached by Iran and world powers would give Tehran a free hand to continue its interference in Arab countries.

Iran is reconsidering its international options following the election in November of US President Donald Trump who vowed during his presidential campaign to rip up the agreement.