Iran welcomes Qatar call to engage in diplomacy with Gulf states

Iran FM Mohammad Javad Zarif emphasises the need for collaboration for a ‘strong region free from hegemony’.

Tehran's arch-rival Saudi Arabia has not publicly indicated any willingness to engage with Iran [File: Dalati Nohra/Reuters]

Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed Qatar’s call on Gulf states to engage in a dialogue with the Islamic Republic and to broker negotiations.

“As we have consistently emphasized, the solution to our challenges lies in collaboration to jointly form a ‘strong region’: peaceful, stable, prosperous & free from global or regional hegemony,” Zarif said on Wednesday on Twitter.

Zarif’s comments came after Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Monday his government was “hopeful” Iran and its Arab neighbours could resume talks.

Qatar, which shares a key gas field with Iran, has for years called on Gulf Arab states to enter talks with Iran, which they accuse of fomenting unrest in the Middle East – accusations Tehran denies.

“We still believe this should happen. This is also a desire that’s shared by other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries,” Al Thani said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Iran’s arch-rival Saudi Arabia has not publicly indicated any willingness to engage with Tehran, however.

Instead, the Saudi kingdom insisted this month’s rapprochement with Qatar meant the Gulf family would be better able to combat “the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme”.

Qatar’s willingness to restore balance in the region comes as Doha has finally solved a three-year-long diplomatic dispute with four Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain. Earlier this month, the four countries lifted a land, sea, and air blockaded that had been in place since 2017.

Qatar was accused of supporting “terrorism” and being too close to Iran – claims that Doha repeatedly denied, saying that there was no justification for severing relations. Borders have now reopened, embassies will soon be re-established, and families separated by the blockade are being reunited.

Source: Al Jazeera