QATAR restored diplomatic relations with Iran yesterday in defiance of the ongoing blockade by its Gulf Arab neighbours.
A Qatari Foreign Ministry statement said: “The state of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”
It added that Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had spoken by phone to his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif before the decision was announced.
The two “discussed bilateral relations and means of boosting and developing them, as well as a number of issues of common concern.”
Qatar withdrew its ambassador early last year after Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite preacher sparked protests and attacks on two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said: “We welcome this measure by the Qatari government.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar in June, accusing the tiny Gulf state of supporting Riyadh’s rival Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine’s Hamas movement.
Last week, Saudi Arabia appeared to offer a concession when it said it would grant Qatari pilgrims entry for the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
However, Doha accused Riyadh on Tuesday of using the Haj “as a tool for political manipulation” after it insisted that only Saudi airlines could carry the pilgrims.
Earlier this month, militant Iraqi preacher Muqtada al-Sadr flew to Saudi Arabia and the UAE — prompting Iranian newspaper Keyhan ask why he had “sold himself to al-Saud.”
Mr Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia is now incorporated into the Popular Mobilisation Units fighting the Isis terror movement — helped by training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.