Bahrain, Iran in talks to restore ties after six years

Bahrain’s King Hamad told Russia’s president Putin that he was looking forward to restoring ties with Iran in May [GETTY/file photo]

Bahrain and Iran have agreed to start talks aimed at resuming political ties, Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported on Sunday, following months of hints that the two countries would restore diplomatic relations.

Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs Abdullatif Al-Zayani met Iranian acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani during a visit to Tehran and agreed to initiate the process to restore ties that were broken six years ago.

A statement carried by BNA said that the meeting was brought together based on the “fraternal historical relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Islamic Republic of Iran and the bonds of religion, neighbourliness, joint history and common interests that connect them”.

The two countries agreed to “discuss the resumption of political relations,” the report noted.

The announcement follows speculation that the two nations would soon restore ties.

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifia on a visit to Moscow in May told Russia’s president that his country no longer had problems with Iran and sought trade and cultural relations.

Al-Khalifa’s comments came at the same time as Iran’s then foreign minister Amir Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also hinted that his country was considering re-opening ties with the archipelago kingdom.

Speaking at the Iranian-Arab Dialogue Conference in May, Amir-Abdollahian said that Tehran was considering resuming relations with Manama and welcomed Bahrain’s decision to pardon some 1,500 prisoners, including political prisoners, earlier this year.

Bahrain cut diplomatic relations with the Persian state in 2016 following Saudi Arabia whose embassy in Tehran was attacked by Iranians angered by the execution of a top Shia cleric.

Nimr al-Nimr was put to death after being convicted of ‘terrorism offences’, Saudi said at the time. The incident prompted Shia-majority Iran to say that Riyadh would pay a “high price” for the execution.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional rivals and have engaged in numerous proxy wars, notably in Yemen’s civil war.

Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, relations with Bahrain have been strained. Iran has criticised Manama for its military closeness with the United States, including agreeing to host a major US naval base in the Persian Gulf.

Bahrain was one of three Arab nations to recently normalise ties with Israel through the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020.

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