Zarif proposes regional non-aggression pact

May 27, 2019 - 19:56

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that he has proposed “regional non-aggression pact” during his three-day visit to Iraq.

While in Iraq, Zarif held talks with senior Iraqi officials including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and political leaders such as Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Iraqi National Wisdom Movement. 

Zarif returned to Tehran on Monday.

“In #Iraq, where I’ve held substantive and productive meetings with the President, PM, Speaker, FM & leadership of two parliamentary coalitions. Proposed regional non-aggression pact: #NeighborsFirst,” Zarif tweeted on Sunday.

During a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Zarif said that Iran sought the best of relations with the Persian Gulf littoral countries and would welcome any proposals for dialogue and de-escalation toward that end.

He added that Tehran would, however, forcefully confront any attempts at waging a military or economic campaign against the country, according to Press TV.

Alhakim said Iraq is in contact with all regional countries to defuse tensions between Iran and the United States.

Zarif also met with Mohamed al-Halbousi, the speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq (parliament).

Habousi warned against the potential fallout from regional tensions and stressed that his country favored the resolution of the current situation as well as the security and well-being of all its neighbors.

Tension has been rising between Iran and the U.S. since the Pentagon sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf and made military threats against Iran. 

The USS Arlington transports marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, are planned to join the carrier strike group.

Also, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would send about 1,500 troops to the Middle East.

In an interview with CNN aired on May 21, Zarif said that the U.S. is playing a “very very dangerous game” by increasing its military presence in the region.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have welcomed the United States’ exit from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposition of sanctions against Iran. These three countries are repeating what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming about Iran.

Netanyahu has been claiming that Iran is seeking to revive the Persian Empire.

Iran has been a vocal critic of the Saudi-led military coalition against the fellow Arab nation of Yemen and criticized the suppression of the Bahraini people who are seeking equal rights. 

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised Zarif's proposal for a nonaggression pact with the Persian Gulf states, saying it can serve as the first step to reduce tensions in the region.

"Perhaps, agreeing not to attack one another is the first step toward reducing tensions. We would consider such an agreement as a proper one," Lavrov said at a press conference after his talks with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla.

He also said Zarif's suggestion was in line with a "well-known and old" Russian initiative to create a "security concept" for the Persian Gulf, which would include Arab states, including the Persian Gulf Arab states, and Iran.

"I believe that anyway we should move on toward creating such a concept, such a security system, and we should start with easy steps, such as being transparent about military matters, inviting each other to take part in drills and elaborating other measures aimed at boosting trust," Sputnik quoted Lavrov as saying.

He stated that Russia would like to see the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations,  and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as the guarantors of such a security system.

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