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Qatari emir in Iran: 'De-escalation' the only way forward

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the only solution to rising tensions in the Middle East between Iran and the United States was de-escalation and dialogue.

Sheikh Tamim's visit on Sunday to Iran to meet President Hassan Rouhani, its supreme leader, and other senior leaders came amid heightened tensions in the Gulf following the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and Iran's retaliatory missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.

Qatar and Iran agreed that de-escalation was the "only solution" to regional tensions, Sheikh Tamim said after meeting Rouhani.

"This visit comes at a critical time in the region, and we agreed with the brothers and with His Excellency the president that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue," he told a news conference.

"Dialogue is the only solution" to resolve the crisis, he added.

Sheikh Tamim was the first national leader to come to Iran since Soleimani's killing on January 3 in an American drone strike.

Qatar is one of a few countries in the region that maintains a close relationship with Washington and Tehran. 

At the joint news conference, Rouhani stressed the importance of stability in the region.

"Considering the importance of regional security - especially in the waterways in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman - we decided to have more talks and cooperation for the security of the whole region," said the Iranian president.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Sunday for increased cooperation among countries in the region to deal with problems he blamed on the United States, his official website said.

"The current situation in the region demands - more than ever before - strengthening of relations between countries in the region as well as avoiding influence of foreigners'" meddling, Khamenei was quoted as saying on his official Twitter account as he hosted Qatar's emir.

"The reason for the current turbulent situation in our region is the corruptive presence of the US and its cohorts. The only way to confront this is to depend on cooperation within the region," he said.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said Sheikh Tamim's efforts to calm tensions were unique.

"Hardly any country or leader in the region is able to make this kind of visit, while at the same time maintaining relations with the American, European, and Iraqi leadership - trying to bridge ideas and facilitate dialogue," he said.

Qatar's emir departed Iran on Sunday evening, state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

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