Kuwait, Iran discuss means to alleviate regional tensions

KUWAIT: HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif yesterday. – KUNA 

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah held talks yesterday with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on a host of issues, including means of reducing tensions in the Gulf region. The discussions between Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled and Zarif dealt with cooperation between the two friendly countries, latest regional events and ways to ease tensions in the Gulf. The talks also addressed means to ensure free navigation in this key region of the world, bilateral ties and matters of mutual concern, in addition to latest happenings around the world. Zarif also met HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

“Good talks with Kuwaiti crown prince and foreign minister. Praying for Emir’s speedy recovery,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. Zarif said that during the talks, he stressed that Iran’s proposal for a regional dialogue forum and non-aggression pact would eliminate the need to rely on foreign powers. Unlike its strained relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Iran maintains good ties with Kuwait, which has acted as mediator to improve ties between Tehran and Arab Gulf states.

Meanwhile, Gibraltar yesterday rejected a US demand to seize an Iranian oil tanker at the center of a diplomatic dispute as it prepared to leave the British overseas territory after weeks of detention. Gibraltar’s government said it could not seek a court order to detain the supertanker because US sanctions against Iran were not applicable in the European Union. “The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the US,” the Gibraltar authorities said in a statement.

A Gibraltar judge had ordered the Grace 1 tanker released on Thursday, weeks after authorities seized the vessel on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria in breach of European sanctions. Iran has repeatedly denied this. But on Friday the US Justice Department filed a request to detain the ship alleging it was involved in supporting illicit shipments to Syria by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

The seizure triggered a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London. Iran subsequently detained the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move. The US Justice Department says the Grace 1 – now renamed the Adrian Darya – and its oil are subject to forfeiture because of US sanctions violations. Ties between Tehran and Washington have frayed since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions. – Agencies