The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council has held high-level talks in the United Arab Emirates, as Tehran seeks to develop ties with Sunni monarchies in the Persian Gulf.
The March 16 visit by Ali Shamkhani comes days after the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia reached a China-facilitated deal to re-establish diplomatic relations after years of hostility between the two reginal rivals.
Shamkhani said his visit represented "a new stage for political, economic and security relations" between Iran and the UAE, a close Saudi ally, according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
IRNA said Shamkhani was accompanied by the head of Iran’s central bank and other senior officials, and held talks with the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE's official WAM news agency said Shamkhani and Sheikh Tahnoon discussed "bilateral relations and opportunities to advance them in a way that serves the mutual interests of the two countries." It did not elaborate.
The visit comes after the UAE sent an ambassador back to Iran in September 2022. The UAE had downgraded its diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic after Saudi Arabia severed its ties with Tehran in 2016 following the storming of Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran over Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shia cleric.
Last week, Shamkhani took part in talks in Beijing that resulted in Saudi Arabia, a US ally, and Iran agreeing to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within two months.
Sunni Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf have viewed Shia-majority Iran with suspicion since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Relations have worsened over the past decade as the Islamic Republic has spread its influence across the region, supporting armed proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian territories.