Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has arrived in Qatar to hold high-level talks with Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and to participate in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
Raisi is accompanied by several ministers and is expected to sign several agreements aimed at boosting bilateral ties during his two-day visit.
“We view this visit as a step towards activating diplomacy with neighbours, especially Persian Gulf countries, and to use their capacities to develop political and economic ties,” Raisi told media before leaving Doha today (Feb 21).
According to Iran’s roads and transport minister, Rostam Ghasemi, four agreements will be signed between the two countries. The most important among them is an agreement on a plan to connect Iran and Qatar via an underwater tunnel, Ghaemi told state television.
Two of the other agreements deal with shipping and boosting maritime trade while the fourth one relates to improving air travel between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Raisi is also expected to represent Iran at the GECF summit. Iran holds the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Vienna talks, Qatar ties
The visit comes as Iran and the world powers party to its 2015 nuclear deal are saying that long-running talks in Vienna to restore the deal – unilaterally abandoned by the United States in 2018 – are in the final stretch.
If successful, the talks could herald Iran’s full return to the global energy market as it could once more sell its oil and derivatives unhindered by US sanctions.
Qatar has strongly supported the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is formally known, as a move that will bolster regional and international security.
Qatar has also at times been relaying messages and acting as a link between Iran and the US as Tehran continues to refuse to speak directly with Washington due to its reneging on the landmark accord.
Iran and Qatar have enjoyed significantly closer relations since 2017 when several other Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on it.
Both sides have maintained those relations since early 2021 when the blockade was lifted and diplomatic relations were restored.