Iran's Zarif rejects inclusion of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain in new US-led nuclear talks

Iran's Zarif rejects inclusion of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain in new US-led nuclear talks
Zarif said Iran does 'negotiate with Westerners', claiming that US and EU interference in the region was the root of its problems.
2 min read
08 December, 2020
Zarif said Iran's proposed Hormuz Peace Endeavor was "still on the table" [Getty]
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed a call by Saudi Arabia to include Gulf states in potential negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme, if the US re-engages with Tehran.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday said the kingdom should be "fully consulted" alongside its "other regional friends" on "what goes on vis-a-vis the negotiations with Iran".

Zarif apparently responded with a firm rejection of the Riyadh proposal in comments posted on Twitter on Monday and Tuesday.

"It seems that some neighbours are asking the West to be part of the negotiation process with Iran! We do not negotiate with Westerners over the region. Their interventions are the basis of [our] problems," Zarif said.

However, Zarif hinted that Iran was ready to negotiate with "neighbours" without the involvement of the US or European countries.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister, Abdul Latif Al-Zayani, has said that the Gulf states could serve as "an essential partner" in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear deal.

US President-elect Joe Biden has signalled he wants Washington to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal - known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Biden said the return "will be hard" but expressed his willingness to work towards the deal if Iran complies with its commitments under the agreement.

Biden has also indicated that he will bring Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, into the process, who are hostile to Iran's role in the region.

In recent days, Germany said the 2015 deal would no longer be enough, calling for a broader Iran nuclear accord that would also rein in Tehran's contentious ballistic missile programme.

Read also: Iran to increase oil exports if US sanctions eased: state media

"I don't know about a revived JCPOA, although one may look to a JCPOA plus plus, something well beyond the JCPOA," Prince Faisal told AFP, apparently in support of the German proposal.

"Dear neighbors, why ask US/E3 [France, Germany and Italy] for inclusion in talks with Iran when ... We can speak directly about our region without outside meddling," Zarif said on Tuesday, adding that the Hormuz Peace Endeavor [HOPE] was "still on the table".

HOPE, according to Zarif, is based on the premise that all regional states have a responsibility in ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the Gulf area.

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