What was behind regional tour of Iranian foreign minister?

Al-Monitor | Saeid Jafari: In recent visits to Kuwait and Qatar, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed with regional leaders issues ranging from US plans for an international coalition in the Persian Gulf to the crisis in Yemen and dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

Zarif arrived in Qatar, a country with which Tehran has good relations, on Aug. 11 and met with officials from that country. He later took to Twitter to describe his one-day visit to Doha as very fruitful. His trip came as President Hassan Rouhani had a telephone conversation with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also on Aug. 11. According to an informed source in the Iranian administration who spoke with Al-Monitor, “Various issues, including US plans for a [naval] presence in the Persian Gulf under the pretext of protecting commercial shipping, were discussed during Zarif’s trip. Iran also informed Qatar that implementing this plan will have unfavorable consequences for Washington.”

Just days later, on Aug. 17, Zarif traveled to Kuwait, a country which, unlike Qatar, has good relations with Iran’s main regional rival, Saudi Arabia. Sources told Al-Monitor that Yemen and US plans for an international coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf were among the issues discussed during various meetings. While in Kuwait, Zarif also presented Iran’s proposal for a regional dialogue forum and non-aggression pact. Tehran hopes Kuwait will convey the message to Saudi Arabia.

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