|Qatar, S. Arabia push for Persian Gulf Arab inclusion in Iran nuclear talks||
TEHRAN – Persian Gulf Arab states must have a seat at nuclear talks between world powers and neighboring Iran, Qatar's foreign minister told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.
Persian Gulf Arab capitals cautiously welcomed an interim nuclear accord between Tehran and six powers agreed on November 24, but some officials said Western allies had not briefed them adequately on the deal.
The agreement between Iran and the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, and China - known as the P5+1 group - offers Tehran some relief from economic sanctions in return for more oversight of its nuclear program.
Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah said the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), a grouping of six energy-exporting states, deserved a place at the table as essential partners in regional stability.
“We are in the region. We are concerned,” he said on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank.
“I know that we have good relationships and we are a strategic partner with our allies U.S., UK, France, and others. So what I was thinking about, it is not only P5 plus Germany; it should be P5 plus the ... (P)GCC.
“At the end of the day (in) any agreement, the (P)GCC is meant to be part of that agreement on the region. We are trying to say it should be 5+2,” Attiyah said.
While (P)GCC states have long traded with Iran, they are at odds over several issues, most notably over Tehran's support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's 2-1/2-year-old civil war.
Attiyah's suggestion that the (P)GCC become more closely involved in the nuclear talks was echoed at the Manama Dialogue by several serving and former officials, including former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani.
Asked for his view, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was “important to find additional mechanisms where (P)GCC countries in particular are consulted and brought in to the process in a new way”.
Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief also said on Sunday that the (P)GCC must be part of the negotiations between major world powers and Iran, AFP reported.
“I suggest that the negotiations on Iran not be limited to the P5+1,” Prince Turki Al Faisal said.
“The (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council must be involved,” Prince Turki said at the Manama Dialogue.
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