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UAE calls for dialogue, ending escalation with Iran

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, gestures during a press conference in Dubai about the situation in Yemen on 13 August 2018. [KARIM SAHIB / AFP/Getty]
Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, in Dubai, UAE on 13 August 2018. [KARIM SAHIB / AFP/Getty]

In a clear shift in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s foreign policy towards Iran, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash yesterday said that tensions in the Gulf region can be contained only through a political solution, and that priority should be given to holding a dialogue and putting an end to regional escalation.

"The tensions in the Gulf can only be tackled politically," Gargash wrote on Twitter, "the long-lasting crisis needs collective attention to stop the escalation first and to reach political solutions through dialogue and negotiations second".

The US drone shot down by Iran last week was reportedly launched from the UAE's territory; Iran then summoned an Emirati envoy in protest against the incident, according to official Iranian news agency IRNA.

READ: Trump approved cyberattacks on Iranian missile systems

Gargash's comments come in sharp contrast to previous remarks made by senior Emirati officials. Last week Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, told reporters after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart in Nicosia that Iran's alleged attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman could only have been "carried out under the auspices of a state".

The UAE's allies have echoed this sentiment, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) saying the Kingdom "does not want a war in the region" but "will not hesitate" to deal with any threat to its sovereignty. MBS explicitly accused Iran of attacking oil tankers in the Gulf of ‚Äč‚ÄčOman in an interview with Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

The UAE's sudden call for dialogue coincides with the US' retreat from its intention to launch a military attack on Iran and resort instead to "diplomacy".

US Envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, said that Tehran must respond "to diplomacy with diplomacy," saying in a press statement from the Saudi city of Jeddah that US diplomacy "does not give Iran the right to retaliate by military action," according to US-based Alhurra TV channel.

READ: US prods Iran for talks to ease Gulf tensions; Tehran dismisses sanctions threat

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