The United Arab Emirates will return its ambassador to Iran after more than six years of severed diplomatic ties. 

UAE Ambassador Saif Mohammed Al Zaabi will return to Tehran in the coming days to “continue pushing bilateral relations forward, to achieve the common interests of the two neighbors and the region,” read a Sunday announcement from the UAE’s Foreign Ministry. 

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, held a phone call to discuss ways of “boosting bilateral relations and areas of cooperation for the benefit of both countries,” the Emirates News Agency, or WAM, said.

Despite conflicting positions, some reports indicate that a nuclear deal with Iran is in the final stages, after 16 months of negotiations between the Islamic Republic and a group of world powers seeking to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, which was called a “bad deal” by then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel, an Abraham Accords partner of the UAE, has sounded the alarm about the dangers of the deal, sending a delegation to Washington to express its position. 

The White House said on Sunday that the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have held a phone conversation about the negotiation efforts.

“They discussed ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the need to strengthen support for partners in the Middle East region, and joint efforts to deter and constrain Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” the White House said.

The UAE’s upgraded ties with Iran might pose a challenge to the Emirati relationship with Israel, which at its core was based upon the concept that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The UAE and other Gulf nations downgraded their relations with Tehran in 2016 in an act of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, after Iranians linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. The IRGC attack reportedly served to protest Riyadh’s execution of an outspoken Shia scholar – Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.  

In recent years, Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen have attacked the territories of both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the Gulf countries have made an effort to thaw their relationship with Tehran and restore diplomatic relations. 

Last week, Kuwait appointed an ambassador to Tehran for the first time since 2016. 

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