UPDATE 1-Qatar, Kuwait welcome Iran's nuclear deal with world powers

Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:05am EST

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(Adds Kuwait position)

DUBAI Nov 25 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab countries Qatar and Kuwait have came out in favour of Iran's agreement with world powers over its nuclear programme, saying they hoped it would help to preserve stability and security in the region.

Iran's Arab neighbours are deeply uneasy about Tehran's diplomatic rehabilitation and have done little to hide their scepticism as talks progressed on the nuclear deal in recent weeks, but at least in public many have now given their support.

Iran's only two Arab friends - Iraq and Syria - were quick to praise the deal on Sunday, as was the Palestinian Authority which welcomed it for putting pressure on Israel. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also spoke out in support.

Qatar said the agreement was "an important step towards safeguarding peace and stability in the region", according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry posted on its website late on Sunday.

"The State of Qatar calls for making the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone," the ministry said.

Kuwait's Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said he hoped the agreement "would pave the way for a permanent accord that would defuse tension, and preserves the stability and security of the region," according to state news agency KUNA.

Saudi Arabia and Oman are yet to make an official comment on the deal.

All Arab countries apart from Syria and Iraq are ruled by Sunni Muslims who look with suspicion at Shi'ite power Iran and have been alarmed by the prospect of any rapprochement with the West that would benefit Tehran.

They worry that the deal, under which Iran is being given relief from sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclear programme, signals a thaw in the 30 years of hostility between Tehran and Washington which will give Iran more regional clout. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal, editing by Sami Aboudi and Patrick Graham)

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