Iran set for dialogue with Gulf neighbours as tensions soar

Comments by Iranian official in Qatar come as John Bolton arrives in UAE for talks on ‘important security matters’.

US military USS Abraham Lincoln
The USS Abraham Lincoln was deployed to the Gulf, stoking tensions in the already-volatile region [Jeff Sherman/US Navy via AP]

Iran is ready to engage in dialogue with Gulf Arab countries to address escalating tensions in the Middle East, its deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Abbas Araqchi made the comments on a visit to neighbouring Qatar where he met Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in the capital, Doha.

Both sides “expressed their concern about escalations and problems in the region”, a Qatari foreign ministry statement said.

Tensions have risen between Iran on one side and the United States and its Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other. Washington has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers, and announced plans to deploy 1,500 US troops to the Middle East – prompting fears of a conflict.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump‘s National Security Adviser John Bolton – who has been accused of promoting “regime change” in Iran – arrived in the UAE on Tuesday before talks scheduled for Wednesday.

A war of words between Iran and the US escalated after attacks this month on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington blamed the attacks on Tehran, which denied the accusations.

Bolton said last week the US had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, but did not provide details.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier hit out at the US after Trump said Washington was not looking for regime change in Iran but was only interested in preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in October the US was seeking regime change in Iran, adding the Trump administration was the most hostile the Islamic Republic had faced in its four decades.

Source: Al Jazeera