Iranian President Rouhani says Tehran has taken “necessary steps” despite US questioning Iran’s desire to strike a deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Saudi Arabia in a bid to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran and discuss ways to calm instability in troubled Yemen and other Mideast nations.
US officials said Kerry will reassure regional officials that a deal with Tehran will not allow Iran to produce a nuclear bomb and will not mean US complacency on broader security matters.
Kerry will see the new Saudi monarch, King Salman, and meet separately with the foreign ministers of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Sunni-ruled Gulf states are unnerved by Shia Iran’s suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons and its increasing assertiveness throughout the region. Tehran denies it wishes to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran is actively supporting forces fighting in Syria and Iraq and is believed to be linked to Houthi fighters who recently toppled the US and Arab-backed government in Yemen.
US officials said Kerry will reiterate that the US supports UN efforts to promote a dialogue leading to a political transition in Yemen, as divisions threaten to split the country.
The UN-mediated talks are aimed at breaking the political stalemate between the Houthis and Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
On Tuesday, Hadi proposed Riyadh, the Saudi capital and headquarters of the GCC, as a possible venue for the resumption of UN-sponsored talks with the Shia Houthis who have seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
The Houthis have rejected moving the talks to Riyadh, given Saudi Arabia’s opposition to their power grab in Yemen, the kingdom’s southern neighbour.
Kerry will also discuss the deteriorating conditions in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group there and in Iraq.
US officials said Kerry would stress that Washington does not see a military solution to the conflict in Syria, but also does not think a political solution is possible while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains in power.