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Zarif urges dialog to stem regional crises

20 April 2015 22:12


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called for a “regional dialog” to uproot the ongoing acts of terrorism in the region, stressing that “manufactured” issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program should be resolved so that “more important” undertakings may be focused upon.

Zarif made the remarks in an article entitled “A Message From Iran” and published on The New York Times website on April 20.

“It is time for Iran and other stakeholders to begin to address the causes of tension in the wider Persian Gulf region,” Zarif said,

“With courageous leadership and the audacity to make the right decisions, we can and should put this manufactured crisis to rest and move on to much more important work. The wider Persian Gulf region is in turmoil. It is not a question of governments rising and falling: the social, cultural and religious fabrics of entire countries are being torn to shreds,” the Iranian foreign minister underscored.

“The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity. It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion,” he added.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany reached a mutual understanding on Tehran’s nuclear program on April 2 after eight days of marathon talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne. The two sides will now work on drawing up a final accord by the June 30 deadline.

Zarif added that the country aims to quell the “chaos” in the region.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif clap after issuing a joint statement at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne on April 2, 2015.
“Endowed with a resilient population that has stood firm in the face of coercion while simultaneously showing the magnanimity to open new horizons of constructive engagement based on mutual respect, Iran has weathered the storms of instability caused by this mayhem. But we cannot be indifferent to the unfathomable destruction around us, because chaos does not recognize borders,” he added.

Zarif wrote in the article that all countries should join forces to establish security in the region of Persian Gulf which has been beset by terror.

“Nothing in international politics functions in a vacuum. Security cannot be pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others. No nation can achieve its interests without considering the interests of others,” Zarif said, adding, “Nowhere are these dynamics more evident than in the wider Persian Gulf region. We need a sober assessment of the complex and intertwined realities here, and consistent policies to deal with them. The fight against terror is a case in point.”

He further censured the hypocritical conduct of some regional and western countries in the fight against terrorism, saying, “One cannot confront al-Qaeda and its ideological siblings, such as the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state, in Iraq, while effectively enabling their growth in Yemen and Syria.”

Zarif also stressed that a regional dialog on the crisis in the region should have been held a long time ago, stressing that Iran is intent on negotiating with others to resolve the chaos in the region.

He further touched upon the crisis in Yemen, describing it a good starting point for the regional dialog.

“If one were to begin serious discussion of the calamities the region faces, Yemen would be a good place to start. Iran has offered a reasonable and practical approach to address this painful and unnecessary crisis. Our plan calls for an immediate cease-fire, humanitarian assistance and facilitation of intra-Yemeni dialogue, leading to the formation of an inclusive, broad-based national unity government,” Zarif added.

Smoke billows from the Faj Attan Hill following a Saudi airstrike on an army arms depot on April 20, 2015, in Sana’a. (© AFP)
Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against Yemen on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate – in a bid to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh. According to reports, at least 2,680 people, including women and children, have so far lost their lives in the attacks.

The Iranian foreign minister further laid out the plan for such a regional dialog, saying, “On a broader level, regional dialogue should be based on generally recognized principles and shared objectives, notably respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all states; inviolability of international boundaries; noninterference in internal affairs; peaceful settlement of disputes; impermissibility of threat or use of force; and promotion of peace, stability, progress and prosperity in the region.”

Zarif further elaborated on the advantages of such a regional dialog, saying, “A regional dialogue could eventually include more formal nonaggression and security cooperation arrangements.”

The Iranian foreign minister further focused on the role that the United Nations can play in the emergence of such regional dialog, stressing the world body should “help alleviate concerns and anxieties, particularly of smaller countries; provide the international community with assurances and mechanisms for safeguarding its legitimate interests; and link any regional dialogue with issues that inherently go beyond the boundaries of the region.”

He ultimately urged the international community to seize the opportunity of engaging in dialog on the crisis in the region, saying, “The world cannot afford to continue to avoid addressing the roots of the turmoil in the wider Persian Gulf region. This unique opportunity for engagement must not be squandered.”

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