Zarif Reiterates Promotion of Regional Dialogue

Zarif Reiterates Promotion of Regional DialogueZarif Reiterates Promotion of Regional Dialogue

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated a call for establishing a regional forum aimed at healing divisions among West Asian governments, while expressing optimism that "realities" will eventually force a change in the hostile behavior of some regional countries toward Tehran.

This proposal was first made by Zarif in an article published by Lebanese daily As-Safir, shortly after the finalization of the July 2015 nuclear deal that settled a 12-year dispute between Iran and western powers.

The Iranian foreign minister also repeated the call last month in his address to Munich Security Conference, in which he stressed the need for a "realistic regional security arrangement" among Persian Gulf states that can later include other regional states.

Speaking to ISNA in an interview published on Sunday, Zarif said the proposal was first made in 1986 and it was included in the UN Resolution 598, which ended the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

"During the Iraq-Kuwait war [1991], Iran announced that if this offer was taken seriously, the region would be in a different shape and we would not see such a war," he said.

Zarif said Iran believes its interests are in "cooperation, interaction and dialogue" with neighbors.

"Iran is an advocate of region's interests and seeks collaboration with regional states," he said.

Tenuous relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two regional powers, have declined to unprecedented lows in recent years.

The Saudi leadership launched a series of tirades against Tehran, starting shortly after new King Salman succeeded to the throne early 2015.

Saudi officials blame Iran for the regional chaos, accusing it of having aspirations to dominate the region and warning about Tehran's growing influence in the region.

The Iranian government sees the language as a reaction to repeated Saudi failures in achieving their regional objectives.

Zarif said the reason for the failures of "some neighboring countries" is not Iran and their accusations against Tehran are "evasive measures".

"Unfortunately, some neighbors, which armed [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war and are now supporting terrorists, have diminished their influence in the region by their own hands. Iran has no role in their loss of influence; their wrong choices are the cause," he said.

The foreign minister advised regional neighbors to review their regional policies, "which have brought nothing but destruction and insecurity for them and the region."

"Some neighbors have extensively trodden all wrong paths; perhaps it's time to take the right path" of using dialogue to settle differences with others.

Zarif expressed optimism that some regional countries will find out that promoting Iranophobia and trying to pressure Tehran are useless and they should instead come closer to Iran.

"My optimism comes from realities in the region and international arena, because these realities will soon impose themselves on these players," he said.


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