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UAE, Iran slowly rebuild trust

High-level diplomatic visits between Abu Dhabi and Tehran in recent months are bringing to an end a chilly era in their relations.
Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif reacts during a family photo session at the Caspian Sea littoral states conference in Moscow, April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3M6F5

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently been the scene of diplomatic activity, the most prominent being the visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the capital, Abu Dhabi, and the emirate of Dubai on April 15. During his visit, Zarif took part in the second Iranian-UAE joint high commission and met with his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed, as well as with Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to whom he delivered an official invitation from President Hassan Rouhani to visit Tehran. This is the second such invitation extended to a high-ranking Emirati official, the first having been extended in December to UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, who visited Tehran in November, went so far as to describe the Islamic Republic of Iran as a “strategic partner” and noted that the UAE-Iranian “relationship was not limited to trade and economic affairs, but transcended those to include cultural common bonds.” Both countries have strong, wide-ranging business partnerships, but according to bin Zayed, the “volume of trade exchange between them a few years ago amounted to more than 44 billion AED [$12 billion] per year, [before] retreating in recent years to approximately 25 billion AED [$6.8 billion] in 2012.” This decline resulted from the economic sanctions imposed on Iran and the UAE’s deference to international resolutions in this regard.

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