Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif assured Gulf Arab states Sunday his country’s nuclear deal with the West is in their interest and also announced plans to visit Saudi Arabia. “The solution to this issue serves the interests of all countries in the region. It is not at the expense of any state in the region,” Zarif said at a joint news conference after meeting Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah.
“Be assured that the nuclear deal is in favour of the stability and security of the region,” Zarif said on what was his first official visit to a Gulf Arab nation.
Zarif then travelled to Oman – which hosted secret negotiations in recent months between Iran and the United States that led to the November 24 landmark deal between Tehran and major powers on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Zarif delivered a message to Sultan Qaboos from President Hassan Rouhani on relations between the two countries and issues of common interest, the Omani news agency ONA said in a brief report.
Oman maintains good relations with Tehran, and Sultan Qaboos was Rouhani’s first guest following his inauguration on August 3.
He has also acted as an intermediary between Western countries and Iran in recent years.
World powers and Israel suspect Tehran’s nuclear ambitions include acquiring a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran vehemently denies.
The Geneva deal was welcomed by the Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states, which have long been concerned about Shiite Iran’s regional ambitions.
But Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) foreign ministers, meeting in Kuwait City last week, also hoped the interim deal would lead to a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Relations between the six GCC nations and Tehran have deteriorated further because of Iran’s support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
The GCC consists of energy-rich Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
After his election, Iran’s Rouhani said he hoped to improve relations with neighbouring countries, especially Gulf states.
Zarif said in Kuwait City that Iran was looking to open a new page in relations with the Gulf.
He also confirmed plans to visit regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia although no date has yet been set.
“We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential country in the region,” he said.
Zarif said the Geneva deal does not satisfy all of Iran’s demands or “the goals of the other party, but it is important to implement it”.
“We will implement the deal and are convinced that implementing it will build the trust,” he said.
In Kuwait he also spoke about the Syrian conflict, warning that the 32-month civil war could cause the spread of extremism and sectarianism in the region unless a political solution is found. He said Iran will attend the Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria “if invited” but will not accept preconditions.