Obama Wins Arab Support for Iran Talks

Obama Wins Arab Support for Iran TalksObama Wins Arab Support for Iran Talks

US President Barack Obama has secured support from Persian Gulf Arab leaders for his attempt to reach a nuclear deal with Iran as a summit outside Washington concluded on Thursday with the first glimpses of possible rapprochement on an issue that has aroused concerns for some US allies in the region.

The wooded cabins of the Camp David retreat have been the scene of many stalled attempts at Middle East peace in the past, and leaders from Saudi Arabia, in particular, remained cautious about aspects of the deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

But White House officials were optimistic of a possible breakthrough in attitudes more broadly after warmer than expected praise from the official delegation of six members of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, the Guardian reported on Friday. “The president spoke about the … agreement with Iran and I am here to say that the (P)GCC welcomes this agreement and we hope at the same time that this will be a key factor for stability in the region,” said the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as he stood alongside Obama.

  Growing Acceptance

Officials from the Saudi delegation were less enthusiastic but echoed growing Persian Gulf acceptance of the deal which is expected to be finalized in Switzerland next month.

“We welcome any deal that stops Iran from having a nuclear capability and this is what we have been assured by the US and by the other P5+1 countries – that all pathways to a bomb will be closed to Iran,” the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters in a separate briefing. The P5+1 is a group of six countries, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program. Iran denies the allegation that it may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian program, saying the work is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

“Over the next six weeks the discussions will continue in order to see if this can be brought about, so it would be too early to prejudge what we accept and we don’t accept because we haven’t seen the final details,” Al-Jubeir added.

Obama downplayed the apparent split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, insisting it was to be expected that some would reserve final judgment until the agreement was completed. “We didn’t have a document that we presented to them to sign on the bottom line, ‘Will you approve of this nuclear framework deal?’ because the deal’s not completed,” he said.

“What I did hear from our (P)GCC partners was their agreement that if we can get a comprehensive, verifiable deal that cuts off the pathways to a nuclear weapon, that would be in their interests.”