Zarif Meets US, Saudi Counterparts

Zarif Meets US,  Saudi CounterpartsZarif Meets US,  Saudi Counterparts

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in New York on Sunday.   

Zarif and Kerry met for more than an hour and stressed the need to make progress in the ongoing nuclear negotiations on the sidelines of UN meetings.

"They spent time reviewing the status of the EU-led P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) negotiations on Iran's nuclear program," Reuters quoted a senior US State Department official as saying.

"They discussed both the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done," the official added. "Kerry noted that this week is an opportunity to make additional progress and stressed that it is our intention to do so."

The two diplomats met one-on-one before being joined by others, the official said, adding that they agreed to meet again "as needed" while in New York to advance the talks.

The nuclear talks with Iran include the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany.

Zarif and Kerry also discussed the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, the official added.

  Cooperation to Combat Extremism

In his meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Zarif said Iran and Saudi Arabia enjoy common hopes and fears, adding it will be to the benefit of the whole region if the two countries work together to find solutions to regional problems.

Zarif said, "We should (work to) neutralize the poison of discord and extremism," the Fars news agency reported.

The senior diplomats described as "positive" the growing trend contacts between the two sides.

The ministers stressed the need for more cooperation and solidarity among the Muslim world to safely get through the current circumstances which have tarnished the image of Muslims in the world.

Zarif referred to the current situation in the region and the threats aimed at sowing seeds of discord and hatred in the Muslim world and illustrated Iran's strategic policy on its neighboring countries.

"The Iranian government believes in friendly relations with all the regional countries and (also believes that) trust among them should be enhanced through cooperation," he added. Saud al-Faisal, on his part, touched on the historical relations between the two countries and said, "Iran is a great nation with great civilization and the two countries' cooperation is beneficial for all Muslims."

  New Chapter in Saudi Ties

After a one-hour meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Zarif described the meeting as a "new chapter" in bilateral relations which can help promote international peace and security.

"Both my Saudi counterpart and I believe that this meeting will be the first page of a new chapter in the relations between the two countries," IRNA quoted Zarif as saying.

The Saudi official also said, "Being aware of the sensitivity and importance of the current crisis (in the region) and the existing opportunity to battle against it, we believe that we are able to put an end to the crisis successfully by seizing this opportunity and avoiding the previous mistakes."

He called Iran and Saudi Arabia two influential states in the region and said mutual cooperation will bring undeniable positive results for international and regional peace and stability.

  Efforts to Divert Anti-Terrorism Fight

Zarif also met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby in New York on Sunday.

They discussed a variety of issues, including the latest regional developments, terrorist and extremist moves in the region, and the emerging US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Zarif stressed the need for unity among Muslims and said tribal and sectarian disputes should seriously be avoided, the Fars news agency reported.

"The image of Islam has been targeted and raising controversial issues between Sunnis and Shiites are meant to distract the fight against terrorism and extremism," he said.

The foreign minister highlighted Iran's resolve to negotiate and cooperate with the regional states to eliminate the current terrorist threats, adding the recent trip of Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Saudi Arabia was a great step forward to help resolve regional problems and prepare the ground for further cooperation.

Elaraby, on his part, referred to the recent meeting of foreign ministers of the Arab League member states and said, "Regretfully, terrorist operations against Muslims are implemented in the name of Islam and we should all cooperate to eliminate the widespread threat (of terrorists)."

The two officials called for continued consultations and contacts on the ongoing affairs, including the fight against terrorism.

  Short-Sighted Policies Intensify Terrorism  

In a separate meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Zarif said the short-sighted policies of certain countries have been the root cause of the intensification of the evil phenomenon of terrorism.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides expressed satisfaction with the nuclear talks between Iran and the six major powers and expressed hope that the ongoing talks "would lead to a promising solution which preserves Iran's essential rights."

In a series of separate meetings, Zarif held talks with international political officials and figures, including the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, and the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency, Pierre Krahenbuhl.