Bahrain's crown prince calls Israeli prime minister to discuss Iran nuclear talks

Regional leaders respond to President Joe Biden's announcement that he intends to return to nuclear talks with Iran

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa attends an event in Manama, Bahrain. The crown prince spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain's state-run news agency reported, as the U.S. administration tries to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear accord. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)
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Bahrain’s crown prince spoke to the Israeli prime minister on Thursday about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain’s state-run news agency reported.

The talks came as the US administration tries to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear accord.

Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, also the country's prime minister, emphasised to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "the importance of the participation of regional countries in any negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file" to support "security and stability in the region", according to the official Bahrain News Agency.

The statement is the first response from a Gulf Arab leader to President Joe Biden's announcement this month that he was seeking a return to nuclear negotiations with Iran. Nearly three years ago, former president Donald Trump abandoned the landmark accord and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. His withdrawal was welcomed by Gulf nations and Israel, Iran's foes in the region that are most directly threatened and who staunchly opposed the deal.

The sheikhdoms in the  Arabian Gulf, with Israel, were excluded from the previous nuclear negotiations and are highly sceptical of Iran's intentions. They indicated that they would be open to a deal only if it included limits on Iran's non-nuclear activities, including missile development and support for rebel groups and militias in the Middle East. A main reason given by Mr Trump for withdrawing from the nuclear deal was that it did not address those issues.

In Thursday's call, the Bahraini crown prince called for any nuclear negotiations with Iran to "include broader issues", without elaborating.

The readout from Israel made no mention of Washington's approach to Tehran. It said only that the crown prince repeated his invitation for Mr Netanyahu to visit Bahrain once the pandemic allows and that the kingdom is interested in investing jointly with other countries in a vaccine production factory planned to be located in Israel.

After the UAE, the island kingdom of Bahrain normalised relations with Israel last autumn, an agreement forged out of mutual enmity for Iran.

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