Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has urged the international community to lift economic sanctions against Iran.
“Iran is our neighbour and we don’t want any problems,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of the UAE, said in a televised interview with BBC News.
An agreement to relieve sanctions was struck in November between Iran and six world powers, including the US, China, Russia and Britain, and is set to come into effect on January 20. The accord will see the Islamic Republic curb parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for access to $4.2bn in foreign exchange and some relief from sanctions on gold, petrochemicals and vehicles.
The deal is intended to lay the foundation for a broader deal between Iran and world powers over the status of its disputed nuclear programme, which Iran insists is for civilian energy purposes, but is widely believed by the international community to be weaponised.
The UAE and Iran remain major trading partners, despite overall trade between the two, excluding oil, falling from AED12.3bn ($3.35bn) between January and June 2012 to AED10.8bn in the same period last year as sanctions took their toll.
However, the two countries remain locked in a territorial dispute over the ownership of three Gulf islands, which are currently occupied by the Tehran government.
Sheikh Mohammed said though that wider relief from sanctions would mean “everyone will benefit”.
He also urged Israel and Palestinian authorities to push on with peace negotiations, which resumed in July last year following a three-year halt. US secretary of state John Kerry has visited the region ten times in the last year or so in order to establish a framework on guidelines for a future peace accord.
“After the peace process, we’d do everything with Israel, we will trade with them, we will welcome them and everything,” Sheikh Mohammed told BBC News. “But sign the peace process.”