July 29, 2015 / 4:48 PM / in 2 years

Gulf Arab power UAE chides EU over opening to Iran

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech to the nation in Tehran, Iran July 14, 2015. REUTERS President.ir/Handout

DUBAI (Reuters) - Gulf Arab power the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday criticized the European Union for seeking Iranian cooperation in stabilizing the region, saying that an "aggressive" Tehran was helping to polarize the countries there,

A senior UAE official said that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who visited Iran this week, failed to understand Iran's aims and her praise for the commitment shown by its negotiators in nuclear talks appeared misplaced.

Prior to her visit, Mogherini wrote in Britain's Guardian newspaper that EU foreign ministers had asked her to explore ways in which the bloc could promote a more cooperative regional framework involving Iran following the nuclear agreement between Terhan and world powers.

Most Gulf Arab states are worried that the accord will hasten detente between Tehran and Washington, emboldening what they see as an expansionist Shi'ite power.

"Cooperation between Iran, its neighbors and the whole international community could open unprecedented possibilities of peace for the region, starting from Syria, Yemen and Iraq," Mogherini wrote.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said Mogherini had not grasped the divisiveness of Iranian policy and suggested her praise of the Iranian officials with whom she negotiated the deal was misplaced.

"Mogherini's Guardian op-ed lacks context and understanding of Iran's regional and aggressive policy and sectarian overtones that have polarized the Middle East" he said in a Twitter post.

"Her task of 'regional cooperative framework' must evolve from a clear understanding of Iran's interventionist and sectarian foreign policy and ensuing polarization."

Gulf Arab officials reacted with concern to a July 18 speech by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that said the deal did not signal any wider shift in Iran's policies in the Middle East, or in its relationship with Washington.

He promised continued support to "friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon".

The UAE is one of several Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states that accuse Shi'ite power Iran of stirring up unrest in Arab states, sometimes using communal ties with Shi'ite minorities in those countries. Iran denies any interference.

Tension between Iran and Gulf Arab states has risen in recent days over Bahraini allegations of Iranian complicity in bomb attacks on its soil, charges Tehran denies.

Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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