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Rouhani: Iran 'ready' to talk to Arab neighbours

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged good ties with his Arab neighbours [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 March, 2018

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'We are, have been and always will be good neighbours,' Rouhani said despite Tehran experiencing growing tensions with other regional powers.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Iran is ready to discuss regional security issues with its Gulf Arab neighbours as long as foreign powers are kept out of any potential talks.

"We don't need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

"When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners," he added.

"We are, have been and always will be good neighbours," Rouhani said, addressing Gulf Arab countries including Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani was speaking in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas overlooking the Gulf - a flashpoint of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The two powers, who severed diplomatic ties in January 2016, have taken opposing sides in wars in Syria and Yemen.

Iran is the main regional backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has been launching a brutal campaign against his country’s civilians to maintain power after peaceful protests began in 2011.

In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing since 2015 Iran-backed Houthi rebels opposed to the internationally recognised government.

Western powers and their Gulf Arab allies say Iran is a destabilising influence in the Middle East.

Tehran, however, has regularly called for dialogue with its neighbours free of any foreign interference.

Rouhani's comments came a day after the United States and three European allies condemned Iran after the United Nations found Tehran had violated the arms embargo on Yemen by failing to block supplies of missiles and drones to the Houthis.

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