Qatari Emir, Gulf foreign ministers travel to Iran for President Raisi's funeral

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei performs prayer at a funeral for victims of helicopter crash, in Tehran

DUBAI (Reuters) -Qatar's emir and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait travelled on Wednesday to Tehran to attend the funeral of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, under whose tenure a historic deal that thawed relations between Tehran and its Gulf neighbours was brokered.

While Qatar has typically enjoyed warm relations with Iran, acting as a mediator between the Shi'ite Muslim country and the United States, other Gulf states had volatile relations with their neighbour. They had accused Iran of interfering in internal state affairs and backing regional foes, up until Riyadh and Tehran signed a landmark deal to normalise ties in 2023.

In the same year, the UAE also upgraded diplomatic ties with Iran. Both states share business and trade ties stretching back more than a century, with the UAE's Dubai long being one of Iran's main links to the outside world.

Kuwait reappointed an ambassador to Tehran in 2022 after recalling its top envoy in solidarity with Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia when it severed ties with the Islamic Republic in 2016. Tensions still simmered over the offshore Durra gas field, where Saudi Arabia and Kuwait claim exclusive joint rights while Iran also claims a stake.

Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and six other passengers and crew were killed in a helicopter crash in Iran on Sunday.

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, led a high-level delegation that included Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is also the foreign minister, to offer condolences for Raisi and Amirabdollahian, the emir's royal court said.

The Saudi state news agency said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan attended the funeral.

Iranian state media showed UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan attending the funeral and paying his respects to the deceased. Later on Wednesday, UAE state news agency WAM confirmed the foreign minister had been at the funeral.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali al-Yahya also travelled to Tehran on Wednesday to participate in Raisi's funeral on behalf of the Kuwaiti emir, the foreign ministry reported.

(Reporting by Jana Choukeir and Nayera Abdallah; writing by Jaidaa Taha and Nayera Abdallah; Editing by William Maclean, Alex Richardson and Jonathan Oatis)