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Iran-GCC shuttle diplomacy offers a chance to reduce tensions

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made an unexpected trip to Oman and Kuwait on 15 February, his first foray to any Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) state since taking office in 2013. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah had visited Tehran in 2014, but the groundwork for Rouhani’s two-country tour was laid by foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah’s trip to the Iranian capital in late January, when he carried a message from the rest of the GCC calling for a strategic dialogue. The atmosphere of distrust and mutual recrimination between Tehran and Riyadh and its GCC allies about who is responsible for regional instability has been fuelled by events in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

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