Iraq can play role in Iran nuclear deal talks, says foreign minister

Baghdad wants to expand its mediator role and help resolve regional tensions

Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Iraq could easily talk to Iranian and American officials because of its historic ties with both sides.  AFP
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Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on Saturday his country was seeking further progress on international talks over Iran's nuclear programme and Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Tehran, two of the key sources of tension in the region.

“The conflict between Iran and the US reflects on Iraqi soil, in Iraqi politics, and society so it is in our interest to help if we can or to encourage both sides to continue the negotiations in Vienna,” Mr Hussein said during the Manama Dialogue conference, in Bahrain.

Talks between the EU, Iran, and indirectly the US, aimed at reviving the nuclear deal that former president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, have stalled.

Under Mr Trump’s administration Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran. Iran responded by rolling back its adherence to its commitments, greatly increasing its stock of enriched uranium and turning off monitoring cameras operated by the IAEA.

Iran wants the US to drop the sanctions before it returns to compliance with its 2015 obligations. Washington insists Iran must cut uranium enrichment and stockpiles before sanctions are lifted.

The foreign minister said Baghdad could easily talk to Iranian and American officials, in light of the historic and good relations the country enjoys with both sides.

"We are worried about the tensions between Iran and the US as we are entering a dangerous situation," Mr Hussein said.

In terms of Iraq restoring its mediator role to defuse tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Mr Hussein said the newly installed government will continue to push for negotiations.

“There is the desire from both countries [Saudi Arabia and Iran] to continue the dialogue, there are some outstanding issues,” he said.

Baghdad has hosted several rounds of talks between Tehran and Riyadh over the last two years.

Former prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi's government, which was in power until last month, set out to change Iraq's position from being a victim of foreign meddling to a forum for co-operation.

"Finding lasting solutions to the Middle East’s conflicts, such as the Palestinian issue, and the situations in Yemen and Libya, is key to establishing regional security," Mr Hussein said.

Updated: November 20, 2022, 6:47 AM