|Sultan Qaboos of Oman to visit Tehran||
TEHRAN – Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman is scheduled to make an official visit to Tehran next week to hold talks with senior Iranian officials on a range of issues, an Iranian Foreign Ministry official announced on Sunday.
The visit is aimed at consolidating ties between the two countries, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, told the Mehr News Agency. He did not specify the date of Sultan Qaboos’ arrival nor the duration of his stay.
Apart from bilateral matters, a number of regional issues will be discussed during the talks, Amir-Abdollahian said, without further elaboration.
Commenting on the relationship between Iran and its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf, the Iranian official said, “Relations between Tehran and Persian Gulf countries are based on friendship, brotherhood, and mutual trust.”
Sultan Qaboos will be the first head of state to visit Tehran for bilateral talks since new Iranian President Hassan Rohani was inaugurated in a ceremony on August 3, which was attended by representatives from over 60 countries, including Oman.
The sultan of Oman was also the first foreign ruler to visit Iran after the reelection of Rohani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2009.
His three-day trip to Tehran, which began on August 4, on the eve of Ahmadinejad’s swearing-in ceremony, marked his first visit to the Islamic Republic in 30 years.
Sultan Qaboos has not visited Iran since then.
Rohani, who won a landslide victory in the June 14 presidential election on a promise of moderation, has said that improving relations with other countries, especially Persian Gulf Arab states, is high on his foreign policy agenda.
Iran and a number of Persian Gulf Arab states, which are politically, economically, and militarily tied in the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, have differing views on a number of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, the conflict in Syria, and the issue of the three Iranian islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the Persian Gulf, which the United Arab Emirates claims are its territory.
Some Persian Gulf Arab countries, which are ruled by Sunni Muslim royal families, have also accused Iran, a majority Shia country, of interfering in their internal affairs and fomenting unrest among minority Shia Muslims, charges that Iran denies.
Oman and Iran, which share control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, maintain friendly relations. Oman has mediated between Iran and the United States -- which cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 -- in a number of cases, including the case of three U.S. citizens who were arrested in Iran in 2009 on illegal entry and espionage charges and were released during 2010 and 2011.
In its latest successful mediation effort, Oman secured the release of Mojtaba Atarodi, an Iranian scientist held by U.S. since late 2011 on charges of violating U.S. sanctions, in April 2013.
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