World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani arrived in the Omani capital, Muscat, on Wednesday on the first leg of a Gulf tour.
The Iranian leader is accompanied by a high-level political delegation and representatives of the private sector, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
Rouhani will meet Sultan Qaboos later in the day for talks before leaving for Kuwait, his last stop in his two-leg tour.
Wednesday’s visit comes amid efforts by Kuwait to improve relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Iran.
In a landmark visit last month to Tehran, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah delivered a message on the importance of Gulf-Iranian relations.
The GCC member states often accuse Iran of meddling in their internal affairs -- claims denied by Tehran.
At a December GCC summit held in Bahrain, the six-nation council tasked Kuwait with establishing contacts with Iran.
The Gulf states fear that Tehran’s nuclear energy program poses a threat to regional security. Tehran, for its part, says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Tension has mounted between the Gulf and Iran since Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Tehran early last year after two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran were attacked by protesters following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies also accuse Tehran of arming and supporting Yemen’s Shia Houthi group, which overran the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country in 2014. The six-year conflict in Syria has also contributed to the deterioration in Gulf-Iran relations.
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