TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) meets Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al- Sabah yesterday, where Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled delivered a letter from HH the Amir on the troubled ties between the Islamic republic and its Arab neighbors in the Gulf. — AFP

TEHRAN: Iran’s president and Kuwait’s foreign minister both appealed yesterday for better relations between the Islamic Republic and Gulf Arab countries, Iranian media reported. According to President Hassan Rouhani’s website, he told visiting Kuwaiti top diplomat Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah that Iran’s foreign policy is aimed at improving “friendly and brotherly” relations with neighboring Muslim countries.

Rouhani also said cooperation was needed to fight terrorism with “unity, integrity and (by) helping” each other. Iranian state TV reported earlier in the day that Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said Gulf Arab nations hope ties “with Iran will normalize” and that Iran and the Arab countries should be “regional partners”.

The TV said the foreign minister in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, handed over a message from Kuwaiti Amir HH Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Sabah to Rouhani about the “necessity of improving relations”. “It’s necessary that the differing views and misunderstandings between the countries of the region should come to an end in a calm atmosphere and through frank dialogue,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). Zarif commended Kuwait for its role in trying to improve relations. “The role of the Amir of Kuwait in supporting positive neighborly relations between countries in the region is worthy of praise,” Zarif said, according to IRNA.

The statements reflect efforts by both sides to repair ties between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The GCC was formed in the early 1980s to confront Iran’s growing influence in the region.

Kuwait recalled its Tehran ambassador in January following attacks by protesters on two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran, though its embassy is still operating. The missions were attacked after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric in the kingdom. Riyadh at the time cut diplomatic relations with Tehran. Iran and most GCC members support opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen. — Agencies