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In Moscow, Russia's Lavrov welcomes Gulf states' rapprochement with Iran

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia and GCC countries will expand their cooperation together in areas of economic trade, defense, security, energy and politics.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2R), Oman's Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Albusaidi (L) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Jasem Mohamed AlBudaiwi (2L) arrive for a joint press conference following a meeting of Sergei Lavrov with his counterparts of the GCC member states in Moscow on July 10, 2023. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hosted his Arab Gulf counterparts in Moscow at the sixth ministerial meeting of the Russia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) strategic dialogue, where he welcomed the recent rapprochement between them and Iran.

"We welcome steps made on the normalization of Arab-Iranian relations. Saudi Arabia, as you know, renewed diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran not long ago. On the whole, this creates a more positive atmosphere in this region," Lavrov said after the meeting, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"We share our partners' attitude in the search for a compromise as well as their readiness to consider the interests of one another and all parties involved," he said.

Jassim Muhammad Al-Budaiwi, the GCC secretary general, said that the bonds between the GCC and Russia are strong and serve the interests of both sides. He agreed with Lavrov's assessment on outreach to Iran, even as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have recently engaged in a spat over a gas field

"We see Iran as a brotherly neighbor with whom we have long-standing historical relations that bind us to a common religion, Islam, and in recent years we have extended the hand of peace, tolerance, dialogue and understanding to our Iranian brothers."

The Russian top diplomat said the ongoing civil war in Sudan was also part of the agenda. "We paid significant attention to the situation in Sudan. … We, along with our Arab partners, spoke in favor of preventing the situation from deteriorating and for swift, urgent steps to cease the fighting," he said. Russia has built strong influence in the war-ravaged country, and reports have confirmed the presence of its mercenary group, Wagner, in Khartoum. 

Lavrov said that Russia and GCC countries will expand their cooperation together in areas of economic trade, defense, security, energy and politics. 

"Following today's meeting, a joint statement and a joint plan of action for Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf for 2023-2028 were adopted. These documents will be in the public domain," he said. 

Lavrov also addressed Russia’s lack of optimism toward the renewal of the Black Sea grain export deal at the Moscow meeting, addressing the agreement that was established between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations in July last year to maintain the safe maritime passage of grain exports from Ukrainian ports. The deal to protect the Black Sea export route is set to expire on Monday.  

“These incredible efforts have not produced any result at all,” he said. 

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