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Shifting Alliances? Iran and Kuwait Sign Historic Agreements

In first visit by Kuwaiti emir to Iran since 1979 Islamic revolution, six agreements signed, including one on security.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/2/2014, 2:38 PM

Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Reuters

In an historic meeting that has led to speculation about shifting regional alliances, the emir of Kuwait on Monday met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called for better relations between the Islamic state and its neighbor Arab Gulf states.

Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah began his two-day trip to Iran on Sunday. The visit is the first by a leader of Kuwait, which is an ally of the US, to Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Khamenei told the emir that regional security "depends on good relations among all countries of the region," ABC News reports citing Iranian state TV. The Iranian leader called for "a new chapter" in bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

According to Iranian state TV, Iran and Kuwait signed six agreements, one of them a security agreement, during the emir's visit.

A divide has traditionally existed between Iran and the largely American-aligned Gulf states.

Kuwait may be following a similar strategic route in the shifting regional power structure as Saudi Arabia, given that Iran can maintain a sudden breakout capability of six to seven weeks to a nuclear weapon if its 19,000 centrifuges are not removed in the nuclear talks.

Shi'ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been deeply divided for years over a raft of regional issues, particularly the conflict in Syria, in which Tehran has backed the Damascus government and Riyadh has been a leading supporter of the rebels.

Saudi Arabia was particularly critical of the interim deal between Iran and six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program, that are now advancing in largely fruitless negotiationsA senior adviser to the Saudi royal family said after the deal that his country was deceived by the US in the agreements, and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.

That independent policy has apparently included a shift towards Iran, as Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal announced in mid-May that it is ready to negotiate better relations with Iran.