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Gulf states mourn Iran president, top diplomat after fatal crash

20 May 2024, MVT 19:43
(FILES) This handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency shows Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi shows him addressing and giving the annual address to the nation for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, in Tehran on March 20, 2024. Iranian media declared President Ebrahim Raisi dead on May 20, 2024 after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous northwestern region, but there has not yet been any official confirmation. -- Photo: Iranian Presidency / AFP
20 May 2024, MVT 19:43

Iran's Gulf neighbours on Monday mourned the deaths of president Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash.

Saudi Arabia, which mended ties with Tehran last year after a long-time rift, offered "condolences to his excellency, the acting head of the executive authority, Mohammad Mokhber, on the death of his excellency Ebrahim Raisi, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his companions," said a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the oil-rich UAE "stands in solidarity with Iran at this difficult time".

In another statement on social media platform X, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called the news "painful", expressing his "sincere condolences to the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa "expressed his sincere condolences and deep sympathy to Iran's supreme leader and the brotherly people of the Iranian Republic over this painful incident", according to a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency.

Jassem al-Budaiwi, secretary-general of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), extended his condolences following the "tragic accident".

In a statement released by the Gulf body, Budaiwi reaffirmed "the solidarity of the GCC with the government and people of Iran in these difficult circumstances".

Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said and Kuwait's emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad Al-Sabah separately sent cables of condolences to Iran's supreme leader.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have long had strained ties with Iran because of its nuclear program and support for militant groups across the region, but they have mended relations in recent times.

In a dramatic shift, China brokered an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia in March 2023 to restore diplomatic ties after a seven-year rupture.

In June, Amir-Abdollahian visited the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman as part of a regional tour aimed at consolidating Tehran's Gulf ties.

© Agence France-Presse

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