UAE working to send ambassador to Iran, opposes anti-Tehran axis
The UAE is working to send an ambassador to Tehran as it seeks to rebuild bridges with Iran, the president's diplomatic adviser said on Friday, adding that the idea of a confrontational approach to Iran was not something Abu Dhabi supported.
The UAE has been trying to balance between superpower ally Washington, new friend Israel – which the Emirates controversially agreed to normalise ties with in 2020 – and old adversary Iran as it seeks to avoid regional tension that could torpedo its economic ambitions while at the same time building up the Gulf state's military capabilities.
The UAE started engaging with Iran in 2019 following attacks on tankers off Gulf waters and on Saudi energy infrastructure and has held direct talks ever since.
Its climate change minister was in Tehran earlier this week.
"Our conversation is ongoing… we are in the process of sending an ambassador to Tehran. All these areas of rebuilding bridges are ongoing," Anwar Gargash told reporters ahead of a visit to Paris by de facto UAE ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Abu Dhabi still shared concerns about Iran’s regional activities but wanted to work hard on finding diplomatic solutions, he said.
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint pledge on Thursday to deny Iran nuclear arms, a show of unity by allies long divided over diplomacy with Tehran.
The undertaking came a day after Biden said he was open to "last resort" use of force against Iran as efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers have stalled.
Asked about talk of an anti-Iran alliance to counter Tehran's regional activities, Gargash said a Middle East NATO was a "theoretical" concept and that for Abu Dhabi confrontation was not an option.
Iran on Saturday told the United Arab Emirates that Tehran gave a high priority to improving ties with its neighbours, a day after the UAE voiced concern over Tehran's nuclear programme.https://t.co/B5YjMWuk1z— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) June 19, 2022
"We are open to cooperation, but not cooperation targeting any other country in the region and I specifically mention Iran," he said.
"The UAE is not going to be a party to any group of countries that sees confrontation as a direction, but we do have serious issues with Iran with its regional politics."
The United States and Israel are seeking to lay the groundwork for a security alliance with Arab states that would connect air defence systems to combat Iranian drone and missile attacks in the Middle East.
However, he said the UAE could be part of anything that protects the country from drones and missiles as long as it did not target a third country.
"We have an open eye. We are very clear if something is defending the UAE and its civilians, of course we are open to these ideas, but not to the idea of creating any axes against this or that country," he said.