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Mon 27 Jan 2020 08:16 AM

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Omani diplomat Yusuf bin Alawi returns to Iran to talk security issues

Alawi met with Mohammad Javad Zarif for the second time within a week

Omani diplomat Yusuf bin Alawi returns to Iran to talk security issues

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C-R) meeting with his Omani counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi (C-L) in the capital Tehran. Image: @OmanNewsAgency

Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif hosted his Omani counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi on Sunday for the second time within a week for talks on security in the sensitive Gulf.

Alawi was making the visit to Tehran on the tail end of his trip to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, which Zarif skipped after scheduling changes to the annual event.

Zarif and Alawi discussed "bilateral cooperation regarding the Strait of Hormuz and emphasised their governments' will... to guarantee maritime and energy security for all," Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement.

It was their second meeting in the Iranian capital since Tuesday and at least their fourth encounter since late July.

Zarif's withdrawal from Davos was due to "unilateral changes in mutually agreed arrangements on part of WEF", Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.

The spokesman lamented that it was a "missed opportunity for dialogue".

Tensions have soared in the region and especially between Tehran and Washington since a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.

Iran retaliated five days later by launching a wave of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq.

Tehran had been on high alert hours later when its air defences mistakenly shot down a Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board.

Oman has often acted as a mediator between Iran and its regional foes and also played a key role in facilitating talks involving the United States that lead to the 2016 nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump's administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions on the Islamic republic, which retaliated by scaling back some of its nuclear commitments.

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