Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (Photo credit Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE)
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani is scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 16 March in an effort to restore diplomatic ties between both countries, according to Reuters.
Shamkhani, who is affiliated with Iran’s top security body, “will travel to Abu Dhabi on Thursday in response to an official invitation by his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss bilateral, regional, and international issues,” according to Nour News.
“Top economic, banking, and security officials will accompany the Supreme National Security Council secretary to the UAE,” the report added.
The visit of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary marks an important turning point at a time of growing rapprochement between Iran and the Gulf countries.
Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the resumption of relations after a series of secret talks held in Beijing between the two rival Islamic nations, which concluded on 10 March, Al-Araby al-Jadid has reported.
Secretary Shamkhani’s upcoming visit to the UAE follows his trip to Beijing on 6 March where he took part in “intensive talks for a final solution to the issues between Tehran and Riyadh” with his Saudi counterpart, National Security Adviser Musaed bin Mohammed Al Aiban and the head of China’s Office of the Central Committee for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.
Following the announcement, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said on 15 March that investments in Iran could happen “very quickly” following the signing of a normalization agreement.
“There are a lot of opportunities for Saudi investments in Iran. We don’t see impediments as long as the terms of any agreement would be respected,” Jadaan said during the first private sector forum of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh were severed in 2016, after Riyadh executed prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, and Iranian demonstrators attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the eastern city of Mashhad in response.
In addition, the UK-based regional news outlet, Amwaj Media, reported on 14 March that Iran and Bahrain have held a number of “low-profile exchanges” in recent months aimed at eventually restoring ties.
“After the reopening of the embassies in Tehran and Riyadh, there will after a short period of time also likely be a normalization between Iran and Bahrain … There is no serious [outstanding] issue between Iran and Bahrain,” a high-ranking regional source was quoted to have told Amwaj Media.
In 2015, Iranian condemnation and expression of political support for Bahrain’s persecuted Shia majority prompted the Gulf state to accuse Tehran of intervening in the country’s affairs, resulting in both sides ending diplomatic representation once again.