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After Saudi deal, Iran top security official due in UAE

March 15, 2023 at 2:25 pm

General Ali Shamkhani the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran photographed in its headquarters on December 17, 2014 in Tehran, Iran [Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images]

After clinching a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia in Beijing last week, Iran’s top security official is slated to embark on a visit to the UAE on Thursday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Ali Shamkhani, who heads Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and is a close aide to Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will visit Abu Dhabi at the invitation of his Emirati counterpart, state media said on Wednesday.

During the visit, Shamkhani will meet and hold talks with Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE National Security Advisor, on bilateral and regional issues.

He is also expected to meet other high-ranking Emirati officials to discuss important bilateral, regional and international issues, a report in the SNSC-affiliated Nour News said.

The report further stated that Shamkhani will be accompanied during the trip by high-ranking economic, banking and security officials.

READ: China’s Wang Yi – Saudi, Iran restoration of ties a ‘victory for dialogue’

Anadolu learned from sources that a meeting between Iran’s top security official and UAE President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is also on the agenda during the trip.

The increased engagement between Tehran and Abu Dhabi comes after Shamkhani’s recent trip to Beijing, where he reached an agreement with his Saudi counterpart to resume diplomatic ties between the two countries, brokered by China.

There is already speculation about Iran eyeing similar normalisation deals with other Persian Gulf neighbours, including Bahrain and Egypt, in the coming months.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, also hinted at it during his Monday presser.

According to a report, Shamkhani’s trip to the UAE was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but had to be delayed due to the Saudi-Iran normalisation deal in Beijing.

UAE downgraded its relations with Iran and recalled its ambassador following the storming of the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in January 2016, in the wake of the execution of a prominent Saudi Shia cleric, Shiekh Nimr Al-Nimr.

The talks to restore full diplomatic ties with Abu Dhabi gained momentum after the new government, led by Ebrahim Raisi, was formed in 2021. In December of that year, Al Nahyan visited Tehran and held talks with top Iranian officials, including Raisi.

In August last year, the UAE sent its Ambassador to Tehran in a step that restored diplomatic ties between the two countries.

In a statement at the time, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said the move was in line with efforts to bolster bilateral ties with Iran “to achieve the common interests of the two countries and the wider region.”

READ: Timeline: Iran and Saudi Arabia key developments towards resumption of ties