Volume. 11868

Iran urges Arab help to end Syria tragedy
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_Zarif-Interview.jpgTEHRAN – Iran’s foreign minister has appealed to Persian Gulf Arab states to overcome their differences and work together to find a “political solution” to the “tragedy” of civil war in Syria.  
Speaking on Talk to Al Jazeera program, which was broadcast on Tuesday, Mohammad Javad Zarif said all countries in the region needed to reach across the sectarian divide to contain threats of violence and extremism, particularly in Syria.
“We should all work to end violence to bring about a political solution to end this tragedy that is a shame for both the Sunnis and Shias,” said Zarif, who was in Doha, Qatar, as part of a tour of Persian Gulf Arab states.
“It’s a shame for the Islamic world. It’s a shame for our region. We have to come to the realization that these divisions will not help resolve the problem.”
After visits to Kuwait and Oman for meetings on its recent nuclear deal with world powers, Zarif said in Doha that his goal was to assure the Persian Gulf states that the agreement signed in Geneva was in their best interests.
He said on Talk to Al Jazeera that he believed it was possible for a permanent agreement to be reached with the West on Iran’s nuclear program, but it would take faith and goodwill.
Zarif also said sanctions had failed to have an impact on his country’s nuclear enrichment program and the productivity of its centrifuge machines. 
“The net product of the sanctions has been about 18,800 centrifuges that have been added to Iran’s stock,” he said.
The Iran nuclear deal that was reached in the Swiss city on November 24 was welcomed by most of the Sunni-ruled Persian Gulf Arab states.
But the Saudi government reacted cautiously, saying the deal could mark the first step toward a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program.
Zarif voiced hopes of visiting Saudi Arabia soon and also the United Arab Emirates, whose foreign minister announced during a visit to Tehran last week that his government was ready to create a joint economic commission with Iran.
“I am ready to go to Saudi Arabia, but it is just a matter of being able to arrange a mutually convenient time. I will visit it soon inshallah (God willing),” Zarif said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif praised Oman’s role in last month’s negotiations between Iran and world powers, including the U.S., which paved the way for the landmark nuclear deal.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, locked in a decades-long rivalry with Shia-dominated Iran, Oman maintains good relations with Iran.
Persian Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers, meeting in Kuwait City last week, expressed hope that the interim deal would lead to a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
The PGCC is led by Saudi Arabia and includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.
After his election in July, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he wanted to improve relations with neighboring countries, especially the Persian Gulf states.

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