Zarif Urges Regional Coop. After Trip to Oman, Qatar

Zarif Urges Regional Coop. After Trip to Oman, Qatar  Zarif Urges Regional Coop. After Trip to Oman, Qatar

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made an appeal for greater regional cooperation on Tuesday after returning to Tehran from a two-day visit to Oman and Qatar.

Zarif's visit came with Qatar in the midst of a row involving the latter's fellow (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council members: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. Together with Egypt, they accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge it denies.

"We have repeatedly suggested a system of dialogue in the Persian Gulf, but unfortunately this has not been acknowledged by some countries, which see their future through tension, pressure and imposition on neighbors," Zarif said, Reuters reported citing Iranian state media.

Qatar calls the economic boycott a "siege" aimed at neutering an independent foreign policy it says promotes peaceful regional reform and fighting terrorism. Another point of contention between Qatar and its fellow (P)GCC members is its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Iranian foreign minister said on Tuesday that the economic pressure regional neighbors have put on Qatar in recent months has brought about closer economic ties between Doha and Tehran.

Zarif's discussions in Oman and Qatar also focused on ending the conflict in Yemen as well as the situation in Iraq and Syria, where Iran is supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad while Qatar has funded some armed opposition groups.

"With attention to the situation in Syria and that in the past, we had differences with Qatar; we need to have more dialogue," Zarif said.

"But the political will exists to have a broader dialogue with all countries about ending the suffering of the Syrian people."

The Qatari government announced it is restoring diplomatic ties with Tehran in August.

Qatar recalled its ambassador to Tehran in January last year after Saudi Arabia cut ties with the Islamic Republic, accusing it of failing to protect its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad against demonstrators. The demonstrators were protesting Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr without due process, convicting him on trumped-up terrorism charges.


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