Iran's top nuclear negotiator holds talks in the UAE - state news agency

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Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani poses for a photo with diplomatic adviser to the UAE's President, Anwar Gargash, and Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa Shaheen Almarar during a visit to the country, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates November 24, 2021. Wam News Agency /Handout via REUTERS

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DUBAI, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, met with senior Emirati officials on Wednesday during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, state news agency WAM reported, in a rare visit that comes as Abu Dhabi moves to reduce tensions with rival Tehran.

WAM said Bagheri Kani, who is Iran's deputy foreign minister, met with the diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, Anwar Gargash, and Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Khalifa Shaheen Almarar.

The discussions stressed the importance of strengthening relations "on the basis of good neighbourliness and mutual respect," working for greater regional stability and prosperity and developing bilateral economic and commercial ties, WAM said.

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Bagheri Kani said in a tweet that Iran and the UAE had agreed to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, without elaborating. read more

The visit comes ahead of the expected resumption of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna on Monday to try to revive a 2015 nuclear pact, which Gulf states have criticised for not addressing Tehran's missile programme and regional proxies.

Gargash earlier this month said that the UAE was taking steps to de-escalate tensions with Iran.

Senior Iranian and Gulf officials told Reuters last week that a top UAE delegation would visit Tehran soon. read more

U.S. President Joe Biden wants to negotiate a return to compliance with the nuclear deal that his predecessor Donald Trump quit in 2018, re-imposing sanctions. Iran, which denies pursuing nuclear weapons, responded by resuming building its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Gulf states, uncertain of the Biden administration's role in the region and seeking to avoid a return to heightened tensions of 2019 that saw attacks on tankers in Gulf waters and Saudi energy infrastructure, have moved to engage with Iran.

Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia, which is locked in several proxy conflicts with Shi'ite Iran around the region, launched direct talks with Iran in April. Riyadh has described the talks as "cordial" but said they remained largely exploratory. read more

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Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Philippa Fletcher, Alex Richardson and Mark Porter

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