Iranian Foreign Minister hails ‘constructive’ Gulf tour

Hossein Amirabdollahian arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday after talks in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah meets Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Kuwait City on Wednesday. AFP
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Iran's Foreign Minister described his tour of Gulf countries as “constructive” on Wednesday while Tehran’s nuclear negotiator met one of the EU’s most senior diplomats.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian arrived in the UAE on Thursday and met President Sheikh Mohamed at Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi.

The two men discussed the importance of "building on positive developments" to benefit the region and boost stability and prosperity, state news agency Wam reported.

Mr Amirabdollahian began his tour in Qatar on Tuesday and continued with visits to Oman and Kuwait on Wednesday.

In Doha he discussed bilateral relations with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim, who hailed the strong relations between the two countries and called for the comprehensive development of ties, particularly in the economic sphere, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.

Also in Doha, Iran's most senior nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri, held talks with the European Union's Iran nuclear talks co-ordinator Enrique Mora.

"I had a serious and constructive meeting with Enrique Mora in Doha," he said on social media on Wednesday.

"We discussed and exchanged opinions on a range of issues, including negotiations to lift sanctions," Mr Bagheri added.

Iran reached a landmark deal in 2015 with world powers labelled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was designed to prevent Tehran from secretly developing a nuclear bomb.

The US under then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, before Iran began backed away from its own commitments, including by stepping up its enrichment of uranium.

While discussions to restart the nuclear deal stalled almost a year ago, negotiations have recently restarted to reach an informal understanding that could help limit Iran’s nuclear activities.

EU spokesperson Peter Stano confirmed the meeting in Doha between Iran and the EU’s nuclear negotiators and said the bloc was "keeping diplomatic channels open, including through this meeting in Doha, to address all issues of concern with Iran".

Luis Miguel Bueno, the EU’s spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, said the bloc was holding unofficial meetings despite an official freeze in negotiations.

“Although the talks are frozen but we have put a suggestion on the table to Iran, this is our last take, which is the next step that needs to be taken is from the Iranian side,” Mr Bueno told The National during a meeting in Brussels.

“There are talks happening behind the scenes, that are unofficial with everyone. Joseph Borrell is the one who is in charge of the JCPOA committee and we work with the Iranians and other sides to bring everyone closer," the EU spokesperson added.

Mr Bueno re-iterated the EU's position that the bloc will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state.

“This is our red line and we are in agreement with our Gulf partners,” he said.

He said solving challenges collectively with Iran’s neighbours “is the best way to realise the progress of nations and ensure security” in the region.

“De-escalation today has a proven track record in Turkey and Iran can see the benefits. They are two different beasts of course but I see more GCC co-ordination on this front than on Syria for example,” Mohammed Baharoon, Director General of the Dubai Public Policy Research Centre told The National.

Oman has played an informal mediator role in indirect talks between Iran and the US over Tehran’s nuclear programme and a possible prisoner swap.

Mr Al Busaidi said he had discussed "continued consultations and co-operation" on issues of bilateral concern with Iran’s foreign minister.

He remarked on the "great consensus in the visions of the two states" which, he said, "will contribute to stability, security and peace," the Oman News Agency reported.

Updated: June 22, 2023, 2:04 PM