The Iranian official’s visit comes following reports of talks between Tehran and Riyadh in Iraq earlier this month.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during a short visit to the Gulf state on Sunday that Tehran said was unlinked to any third party nation, despite circulating reports.
The Iranian diplomat sent Sheikh Tamim a verbal message from President Hassan Rouhani to touch on ways to enhance Doha-Tehran relations as well as issues of common concern, according to the Amiri Diwan.
On the same day, Zarif met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in the two diplomat’s first face-to-face meeting since February when the Qatari official visited Tehran.
Iran’s Ambassador to Qatar Hamid-Reza Dehqani said the Iranian official’s visit is designed to expand and deepen bilateral ties with the Gulf state “especially after the recent regional and international developments, that are quite promising and positive”.
“For the Islamic Republic of Iran, excellent relations with Qatar and the entire Persian Gulf littoral countries is of great significance,” he added.
The Iranian diplomat is set to head towards Baghdad on his next leg of the trip.
The meetings come amid indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna that hope to restore the dubbed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA]. So far, the talks have seen signs of progress despite regional tensions triggered by an attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.
Read also: Iran’s FM to visit Qatar, Iraq on Sunday
In February, Qatar’s FM said Doha will “spare no efforts” in ensuring that Tehran returns to the 2015 accord during senior-level meetings in Iran.
Zarif’s visit also comes following a Financial Times report that said a meeting, reportedly brokered by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, was held on April 9th in Iraq where Saudi Arabia and Iran allegedly discussed possibilities towards restoring ties.
Shortly after the announcement, Iran’s foreign ministry issued a statement to denounce “contradictory accounts” in the media.
“These news agencies have a long history of publishing rumours,” Khatibzadeh said at the time, though he confirmed Iran has “always welcomed” dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi government official confirmed the meeting to AFP and a Western diplomat told the agency that he was “briefed in advance that talks would happen” with the “purpose to help broker a better relationship between Iran and Saudi and decrease tensions”.
Speaking to Reuters, a Middle East official said “the April meeting was a very constructive meeting during which many issues, mainly the Yemen crisis, and Iran’s nuclear deal were discussed.”
However, shortly after Zarif’s visit to Doha, Iran denied the trip involved “third party” countries.
“Zarif’s visits to Qatar and Iraq are within the framework of Ramadan diplomacy. We have good and brotherly ties with Qatar and Iraq,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman told a weekly press conference on Monday, adding that ministerial visits to other countries are also on the agenda.
“However, we acknowledge the efforts of the two countries [Qatar and Iraq] in regional developments,” he said.
Throughout the years-long feud between the two countries, Qatar has maintained cordial relations with the Islamic Republic. This was one of the main points of contention for the 2017 Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt impose a blockade on Qatar.
Since the signing the historic Al-Ula accord on January 5th this year – which triggered the return of diplomatic ties between Qatar and the former blockading quartet – Doha has offered to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.