Tuesday, 15 October, 2019

Qatar’s FM urges ‘serious dialogue’ with Iran

Qatar’s top diplomat on Tuesday called for a “serious dialogue” with Iran in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers.

Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press

Al-Attiyah spoke from a skyscraper office overlooking the rapidly developing Qatari capital, Doha, a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council in Qatar. Kerry’s visit was aimed in large part at reassuring the Arab allies of America’s commitment to their security following the deal, which gives Iran broad sanctions relief in exchange for guarantees it won’t build a nuclear bomb.

The Persian Gulf states have welcomed the deal of Iran, a non-Arab, Shiite power that they see as increasingly assertive across the Middle East.

Al-Attiyah said a “firm agreement between the major players and Iran” was the best way to resolve the nuclear issue. And he suggested there was now scope to work with Iran on other topics too.

“We should have a serious dialogue with our neighbor, the Iranians, and … lay down our concerns from both sides, and solve them together. Iran is our neighbor in the region,” he said.

Qatar is an important U.S. ally in the Gulf, hosting American bombers, support aircraft and the forward headquarters for U.S. Central Command at its vast al-Udeid air base.

It also splits control of a vast underwater natural gas field with Iran, a fellow OPEC member. It has long positioned itself as a venue for mediating thorny regional conflicts, and it last week hosted a visit from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has made outreach to his Arab neighbors a priority.

Al-Attiyah cautioned that there are still major areas of disagreement.

More work must be done to build confidence on both sides, including on the issue of “interfering in other countries’ internal affairs,” he said.

“We are all in the GCC working toward a good neighborhood. We want also Iran to take this approach as well, and only then we can have a fruitful dialogue,” al-Attiyah said.

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