|PGCC chief welcomes Iran’s new tone||
TEHRAN – The secretary general of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) has welcomed the tone of the new Iranian administration and expressed hope that effective actions will follow it in every positive sense.
Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani made the remarks in an interview with Al-Hayat on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Al-Monitor reported.
Following are excerpts of the text of the interview:
Q: Here in New York, you, the members of the (P)GCC, have met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the midst of a deterioration in the United States’ relationship with the (Persian) Gulf states and an amelioration with Iran. Did Kerry give you any explanation, apology or future plan to fix what really seems to be floundering in the U.S.-(Persian) Gulf relationship?
A: The United States is a friend of all of the (P)GCC countries, and we have a strategic dialogue with it that started about two years ago to deepen the relationship in various fields. This is the goal of the strategic dialogue, and the meeting was part of the strategic dialogue or U.S.-(Persian) Gulf Cooperation Forum.
Q: What does that mean when we are practically in the midst of celebrating improvements in U.S.-Iranian ties, knowing that the United States looks like it inadvertently or intentionally jumped over the (Persian) Gulf states and kind of distanced them from [having a say in] the Syrian developments?
A: What I see now is just talks between the two countries: Between the United States and another side. We do not see anything on the ground now.
Q: This is the first time since the Iranian Revolution that a meeting has been held between the foreign ministers of Iran and the United States. It is the first time that the U.S. president has spoken with the Iranian president. This is not something trivial. Are these not developments on the ground?
A: We have not seen anything, but God willing, this will be a breakthrough that can help resolve any crisis. We believe in dialogue, and we believe that the solution to the problems should come through peaceful means and dialogue. This is one of the principles of our work in the (P)GCC, and we hope that the Syrian issue — the Syrian crisis — will be resolved and that the Syrian bloodshed — whether by chemical weapons or other means — will be stopped. We do not want to reduce the issue to chemical weapons only.
Q: So this is one of the elements of the difference in positions that led — through the current of Russian-American and American-Iran convergence — to reducing the Syrian crisis to the chemical weapons issue. This is not the (Persian) Gulf project. Didn’t the U.S.-Iranian rapprochement come at the expense of the (Persian) Gulf project in Syria?
A: We do not have a specific project, but we are making efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria. We are making efforts to resolve the crisis through the Arab League and through the member states of the Arab League. This is our goal. Our goal is for the crisis to be resolved and for the aspirations of the Syrian people to be fulfilled.
Q: Do you think it’s time for the (P)GCC to take a decision that is in the framework of real reconciliation with Iran and finding a new dimension for this relationship, so that it is reflected in places like Iraq and Syria?
A: We welcome the Iranian rhetoric. The speech of President Hassan Rouhani is positive and the (P)GCC and (Persian) Gulf countries have stretched out their hands and transcended all phases. They have always stretched out their hand to solve all topics through dialogue, consensus, and cooperation. We now have a positive rhetoric, and we hope the effective actions will follow it in every positive sense.
Q: Do you think the (P)GCC countries need a new strategy to tackle what is needed now in the framework of the relationship with Iran and with the Syrian issue?
A: Until now, how to fix the situation and the required measures are a constant issue. There is always unified work through the Arab League.
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