Iran envoy meets Kuwaiti emir in latest outreach

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KUWAIT CITY (AP) - Iran's top diplomat met with Kuwait's ruler Sunday on his first visit to the Western-allied Gulf state since Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif conveyed a message from Rouhani on ways to improve relations between the two countries during his meeting in Kuwait with emir Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, according to a report carried by the official Kuwait News Agency.

Iran's new government has promised to build closer ties with nearby Arab countries. The Islamic Republic has a tense relationship with Gulf Arab states, particularly regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Tehran last month agreed with world powers in Geneva to freeze parts of its nuclear program in return for an easing of Western sanctions. The West and its allies fear the program could be used to build an atomic bomb, although Iran says it is only for peaceful purposes.

Zarif told reporters in Kuwait the nuclear deal illustrates Iran's good intentions and said the world is witnessing an easing of the mistrust between Iran and the West, according to an account of his remarks published by the Kuwaiti news agency.

Seeking to the ease concerns of Iran's Arab neighbors, Zarif was quoted as saying the deal is not "at the expense of any country in the region."

Zarif was scheduled to head to Oman, which maintains friendly ties with both Iran and Western powers, after leaving Kuwait, according to Iran's official IRNA news agency.

The United Arab Emirates' foreign minister visited Tehran last week. The Western-allied Arab Gulf state differs with Iran over several issues, including Tehran's control over Persian Gulf islands, but it was one of the first regional countries to welcome last month's nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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