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Iran, Kuwait Pledge Cooperation During Rare PM Visit

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran and Kuwait pledged to boost economic cooperation during the first visit to Tehran by a prime minister from the Gulf Arab U.S. ally in more than 30 years, Iranian state media said.

In a possible reference to the disputed Arash gas field in the Persian Gulf, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nassir al-Muhammad al-Sabah called for "cooperation in connection to the resolution of the continental-shelf issue," state broadcaster IRIB said.

They also discussed boosting trade between the two major oil producers and the resumption of halted projects, IRIB said, without elaborating.

"Iran does not observe any limitations in raising the level of the two countries' ties and is prepared to improve exchanges in all fields," Rahimi said.

IRIB quoted the Kuwaiti prime minister as saying, "We are prepared to improve our ties in all fields with the of Iran."

The aim of his visit was to boost political and economic ties, Iran's English-language state television station, Press TV, said.

Such language may raise eyebrows in Washington, which is embroiled in a long-running row with Tehran over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. The West suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

Rahimi, reiterating Iran's objections to the presence of U.S. and other foreign troops in the Middle East, said: "The presence of foreigners has never been useful for any of the Islamic countries in the region."

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to contribute to the establishment of sustained peace and security in the gulf along with other countries of the region," he said.

Kuwait, a Sunni-led nation, and Iran, a predominantly Shi'ite Muslim country, are both members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

But Gulf Arab states are concerned about spreading Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip and its potential effect on their own Shi'ite communities. Gulf Arabs also fear Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.