Qatar urges Gulf Arab states to hold talks with Iran

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs. (TRT World and Agencies)

Qatar is urging Gulf states to enter into a dialogue with Iran and has offered to broker negotiations after a three-year blockade on Doha was recently removed by its Arab neighbors.

The Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who has previously called for dialogue with Iran, told Bloomberg TV he was “hopeful that this would happen and we still believe this should happen.”

“This is also a desire that is shared by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries,” he said.

It comes weeks after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt re-established ties with Qatar after breaking them off in June 2017, imposing a land and air blockade.

The Saudi Crown Prince, and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), welcomes the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia on the 5th of January. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The blockade was imposed partly over allegations that Qatar was too close to Iran. Doha denied the accusations.

Qatar and Iran share one of the world’s largest gas fields, and Doha maintains cordial relations with Tehran.

Qatar also has close relations with Washington and hosts a large US military base.

The state has previously mediated between the US and Iran, suggesting that Sheikh Mohammed’s intervention could be timed as a signal to President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, who is due to take office on Wednesday (tomorrow).

The current occupant of the White House, President Donald J. Trump, has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran and pulled the United States out of a multilateral nuclear deal with it in 2018.

US President Donald J.Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran after declaring the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, on May 8, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) 

“We want the accomplishment; we want to see the deal happening,” Thani said of potential talks between Washington and Tehran.

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

Instead, Saudi Arabia insisted this month’s rapprochement with Qatar meant the united Gulf would be better able to tackle “the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.”

“Qatar will facilitate negotiations, if asked by stakeholders, and will support whoever is chosen to do so,” the Qatari foreign minister added.

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