x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Kuwait says relations with Iran are ‘excellent’

Kuwait’s relations with Iran are “excellent, historical and developing”, the official Kuna news agency cited foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled Al Jarallah as saying

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait has described its relations with Tehran as “excellent” despite mounting tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait’s relations with Iran are “excellent, historical and developing”, the official Kuna news agency cited foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled Al Jarallah as saying late Tuesday.

“We are extremely pleased with the development of the distinguished relations between the two nations,” said Mr Al Jarallah, adding that “friendly Iran is an important country shouldering great responsibilities in the region”.

Mr Al Jarallah spoke after attending a function at the Iranian embassy in Kuwait City to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

He said Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah plans to visit Tehran, but did not say when.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, while Saudi Arabia backs the Sunni-led rebellion.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited four Gulf states as part of a charm offensive in December, skipping Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and called for opening a new page in relations with the bloc.

Mr Al Jarallah said GCC states and Iran are holding talks to improve ties.

“We cannot imagine not having talks with Iran considering its weight, size and role in the region.”

Tehran has taken on a softer diplomatic stance since Hassan Rouhani was elected president last year, followed by Iran’s historic nuclear agreement with six countries.

However, Iran yesterday returned to its hawkish rhetoric with its military chief saying it was ready for a fight with Israel and the US if attacked.

“We are ready for the decisive battle with America and the Zionist regime,” General Hassan Firouzabadi Firouzabadi was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.

He also warned neighbouring nations not to allow any attack to be launched on Iran from their soil.

“We do not have any hostility towards regional states, but if we are ever attacked from the American bases in the region we will strike that area back.”

Washington has a military presence in many parts of the region, including in Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said late last month that if diplomacy with Iran fails, “the military option of the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do”.

But Gen Firouzabadi accused the US of bluffing.

“Over the past decade, they brought their forces but came to the conclusion that they can’t attack us and left,” he said, dismissing the US military threat as nothing but a “political bluff”.

Mr Rouhani said on Tuesday the West should not have any delusions about using a military option.

“I say explicitly, if some have delusions of having any threats against Iran on their tables, they need to wear new glasses. There is no military option against Iran on any table in the world.”

Iran is due to resume nuclear talks on Monday in Vienna with the six countries – Britain, France, the United States, Russia, China and Germany – aimed at reaching a comprehensive nuclear accord following the agreement struck in November.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons alongside its civilian programme, allegations denied by Tehran which insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, if diplomacy fails.

* Agence France-Presse