Iran’s top diplomat travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to pay his respects after the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed, Iranian state media reported, while Tehran welcomed the appointment of the Gulf state’s new ruler.

The trip by Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is the highest level visit by an Iranian official to the Gulf country since Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a deadly strike on the UAE in January.

While indirect talks between arch-foes Tehran and Washington to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since March, Amirabdollahian’s trip coincides with the visit of a high-ranking US delegation, headed by Vice President Kamala Harris, to Abu Dhabi to also offer condolences on the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed last week.

In 2019, the UAE started engaging with Iran following attacks on tankers off Gulf waters and on Saudi energy infrastructure.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani visited the UAE in November, when he said the two countries had agreed to open a new chapter in bilateral relations.

UAE strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was formally elected president by the country’s federal supreme council on Saturday, led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and fought a rising tide of political Islam in the region.

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