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Iran’s Zarif reassures Gulf Arabs over nuclear deal

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The Islamic republic last Sunday struck a landmark deal in Geneva with Western powers on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during second joint high committee meeting between Kuwait and Iran at the foreign ministry in Kuwait city on Sunday (AFP PHOTO/YASSER AL-ZAYYAT)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during second joint high committee meeting between Kuwait and Iran at the foreign ministry in Kuwait city on Sunday (AFP PHOTO/YASSER AL-ZAYYAT)

AFP- 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.

The Islamic republic last Sunday struck a landmark deal in Geneva with Western powers on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Both 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 Shi’a Iran’s regional ambitions.

But Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers, meeting in Kuwait City last week, also hoped the interim deal will 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 President Hassan 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 is also visiting Oman during his current tour and 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.

He also praised the outcome of a visit last week by the UAE foreign minister, saying Tehran would continue to hold discussions with UAE over disputed islands in the Gulf.

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.

Zarif said the “political option” is the only solution to the Syrian conflict and warned that the civil war could cause the spread of extremism and sectarianism in the region.

“We believe that Syria’s future should be determined by the Syrian people only through ballot boxes,” he said.

“There is no solution to the Syrian crisis except by a political settlement. The military solution is an illusion.”

Iran will attend the Geneva II peace conference on Syria “if invited” but will not accept preconditions, Zarif added.


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