Iran, Qatar sign bilateral cooperation deals as Raisi eyes improved Gulf ties

Iran, Qatar sign bilateral cooperation deals as Raisi eyes improved Gulf ties
Iran and Qatar signed cooperation deals during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Doha, which was the first visit to the Gulf country by an Iranian president in 11 years.
2 min read
22 February, 2022
Ebrahim Raisi's visit was the first to Qatar by an Iranian president in 11 years [Getty]

Iran and Qatar signed several bilateral cooperation deals on Monday during a visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Doha that he said he hoped would help improve ties with other Gulf Arab states.

Raisi's visit, the first to Qatar by an Iranian president in 11 years, comes as the United States and Iran hold indirect talks aimed at salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal, which Gulf states deemed flawed for not addressing Iran's missile programme and regional proxies.

"We believe that the level of existing cooperation between the countries of the region is not commensurate with potential ties," Raisi said in joint remarks with Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

"Iran seeks to enhance these relations as our goal is regional convergence," said the Iranian president, who will attend a gas exporters' summit in Doha on Tuesday.

Earlier, Qatar and Iran signed 14 memoranda of understanding in the fields of aviation, trade, shipping, media, cancellation of visa requirements, electricity, standards, education and culture.

"We have today expanded our cooperation in the fields of the economy, energy, infrastructure, culture and food security," Raisi said.

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Qatar has good ties with Iran, with which it shares a giant gas field. Tehran supported Doha after Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies imposed a boycott on Qatar in mid-2017 in a dispute over its ties with Islamist groups and with non-Arab Turkey and Iran.

The Gulf row was resolved early last year and Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which is locked in several proxy conflicts with Iran including in Yemen, has been engaging directly with Tehran in a bid to contain tensions.

Qatar's emir said in the joint remarks that his U.S.-allied country was ready to do what it can to help bring an agreeable solution between Iran and the major parties at talks in Vienna to salvage the nuclear deal, which Washington pulled out of in 2018.

Iran's oil minister said on Monday that unilateral sanctions against members of the gas forum threaten global energy security and that Iran provided the best option for gas exports to east and west, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran has faced gas shortages at home because of record high consumption, particularly for winter household heating, and has had to cut supplies to cement plants and other industries.