Signs of Iran deal progress are 'not positive', Saudi foreign minister says

Ukraine, food security, Syria, Palestine, Iran and Yemen were discussed in the GCC+3 meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan attends an Arab League Council meeting at league headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, this month. EPA
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Follow developments at the UN General Assembly as they happen.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Friday there is little optimism for the fate of nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“We are hopeful that there is still potential for progress of the negotiations. But unfortunately, the signs, as of now, are not positive,” Prince Faisal said.

The Saudi diplomat spoke to media following a meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council plus Jordan, Iraq and Egypt (GCC+3) in New York on the sidelines of this year's UN General Assembly.

The meeting came after talks around forging a new nuclear deal with Iran have floundered. Former president Donald Trump abrogated the US side of the agreement in 2018 and any new agreement to slow Iran's development of a nuclear weapon seems far off.

The GCC+3 meeting, hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was “very good” and followed up on President Joe Biden's visit to Jeddah in July, Prince Faisal said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior diplomat at the meeting said the main issues discussed were Ukraine, food security, Palestine, Iran and Syria. The diplomat reiterated the Saudi foreign minister’s view on the nuclear talks with Iran, calling them “frozen”.

Representatives and foreign ministers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and Egypt attended the meeting, which went 15 minutes over its scheduled time.

“The issues of regional co-operation and regional security, enhancing the partnership between the countries of the region and the United States” were discussed, Prince Faisal said.

China did not come up in the meeting, he added.

He said Riyadh is encouraging all parties to be serious about the Iran talks and “to find a way to resolve the issues while ensuring that the minimum necessary safeguards of non-proliferation are in place”.

Asked by The National if he had held any meetings with Iranian officials while in New York, the Saudi foreign minister said no such meetings have taken place.

Mr Blinken said at the start of the GCC+3 meeting that the discussion was to focus on “shared regional and global challenges, to bring an enduring peace to Yemen, dealing with the challenges posed by Iran, grappling with food insecurity, among many other issues”.

Updated: September 23, 2022, 5:34 PM