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Top Iranian official visits UAE after Saudi deal

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A top Iranian official visited the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, days after Tehran agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia brokered by China, sparking a broader turmoil in the Middle East. Hope for reconciliation.

Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said his visit was “a meaningful beginning of a new phase of political, economic and security relations between the two countries,” state news agency IRNA reported.

He is said to have held talks with the UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tanub bin Zayed Al Nahyan, accompanied by the governor of Iran’s central bank and other senior officials. The UAE had no immediate comment.

Sunni Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf have been skeptical of Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled Tehran’s U.S.-aligned monarchy. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as Shiite-majority Iran has extended its influence across the region and backed powerful armed proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian territories people.

In the China-brokered deal, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties that were severed in 2016 when Iranian protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia cleric.

The deal raised hopes of lasting peace in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been at war with Iran-aligned Houthi militias since 2015. The conflict has killed tens of thousands and pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

The United Arab Emirates, a close Saudi ally that has also intervened in Yemen, sent its ambassador back to Iran last August for the first time since 2016, as did Gulf Arab state Kuwait. Dubai is the UAE’s main international business center and has a large Iranian community.

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