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Iran’s top security official in UAE seeks closer ties

DUBAI, March 16 (Reuters) – Iran’s top security official held high-level talks in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, as Tehran seeks to expand ties with the Gulf state over its nuclear work and the sale of unmanned vehicles to Russia. Relations with the West have become increasingly tense.

The visit by Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, comes days after Tehran and Riyadh, with the help of China, reached an agreement to rebuild relations and reopen their embassies within two months after years of hostilities .

“Considering the suitable platform created since a year ago to develop relations between Iran and the UAE, I consider this visit a new phase in political, economic and security relations,” Iranian state media Abu Dhabi’s Shamkhani reported.

The UAE downgraded diplomatic ties with Iran after Riyadh severed ties with Tehran in 2016 after Riyadh executed a prominent Shia cleric and hardline protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in the Islamic Republic.

The UAE began re-engaging with Tehran in 2019 after years of hostility between competing geopolitical parties.

That led to an escalation of diplomatic relations between Iran and the UAE last year. The UAE has commercial and trade ties with Tehran dating back more than a century, and the emirate of Dubai has long been one of Iran’s main links with the outside world.

Growing concerns about warming ties between Israel and its former Arab foes, including the normalization deal known as the Abraham Accords between Israel and some Arab states, have prompted Tehran’s clerical rulers to seek regional détente.

Tensions between Iran and the West have intensified over Tehran’s nuclear activities and its supply of drones for Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, as well as the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on months of anti-government protests. Tehran denies selling drones to Moscow for war in Ukraine.

Israel, the Islamic Republic’s old foe, has threatened military strikes if world powers fail to save Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington have been stalled since September.

Then-President Donald Trump reneged on the agreement and reimposed U.S. sanctions in 2018. In response, Tehran violated the agreement in a number of ways, including rebuilding its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Written by Parisa Hafezi; Edited by Christina Finch

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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