Oman top diplomat visits Iran after US trip

Tehran (AFP) –


Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced support on Monday for reducing tensions in the Gulf as he hosted his counterpart from traditional mediator Oman for talks in Tehran.

The visit by Oman's minister of state for foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi, came a week after he held a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It is the second time since late July that bin Alawi has been sent to Iran by the sultanate, a past mediator between foes in the Middle East.

The Iranian foreign ministry said Zarif, in talks with bin Alawi, had "emphasised the necessity of reducing tensions in the region".

Zarif said Iran was serious about a plan -- dubbed the Hormuz Peace Endeavour -- that it has put forward to reduce regional tensions.

President Hassan Rouhani announced the peace plan at the UN General Assembly in September, calling on Arab nations in the Gulf, including Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, to join it.

In a tweet, the Omani foreign ministry said that bin Alawi and Zarif had "discussed bilateral relations and regional issues".

The Omani minister's trip to Iran comes a week after he met Pompeo during an official visit to the United States.

The US State Department said at the time that Pompeo thanked him for "Oman's cooperation on security and counterterrorism issues".

Long-fraught relations between Tehran and Washington plunged to a new low last year when the US unilaterally withdrew from an international accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

The arch-foes came to the brink of a military confrontation in June when Iran downed an American drone and US President Donald Trump ordered retaliatory strikes before cancelling them at the last minute.