United Arab Emirates top adviser has met Iran's Supreme Leader in a major visit for the Gulf Arab federation that has long viewed the Islamic Republic as its main regional threat.
The national security adviser of the UAE Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and the country's president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Monday.
The visit comes as the Emirates and Saudi Arabia are both negotiating with Iran amid efforts in Vienna to save Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
Iranian state television later quoted Shamkhani as saying that “warm and friendly” relations between the countries remain a priority and that they shouldn't be affected by other nations — likely a reference to the United States and Israel.
Sheikh Tahnoon also met with President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was also visiting Tehran on Monday.
Ali Bagheri Kani, an Iranian deputy foreign minister leading the Vienna talks, also recently traveled to the UAE for talks.
Militarising the region
As the meeting took place, however, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh criticized the Emirates for its purchase this past weekend of 16 billion euros worth of advanced Rafale jet fighters from France.
The UAE also plans a $23 billion purchase including advanced stealth F-35 fighters as well, after its recognition of Israel.
Khatibzadeh urged France to “behave more responsibly” and criticized the “militarising of our region.”
“We are witnessing billions of dollars of arm sales to regional countries though they hold many meetings about our missiles," Khatibzadeh said, mentioning Iran's ballistic missile programme. “With these actions, we become more determined to make our defence shield more active.”
Talks over Iran's programme in Vienna broke up last week after Tehran offered new demands.
Khatibzadeh insisted Iran wasn't after a “temporary” agreement from the negotiations, which he described as resuming “later this week.”
European officials have yet to announce a time for the talks to restart.
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