“In our good relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we do not forget our redlines regarding the Palestinian issue. We will not accept any Israeli influence in the Persian Gulf; and [regional] states are against normalization [of ties with Israel],” Amir Abdollahian said in an interview with Al-Mayadeen tv on Friday.
He said that Israel is in a very weak position now and going through a wide array of problems, adding that proof of the matter was given when the Palestinian ‘Operation al-Quds Sword’ last year dealt a major blow to a fragile Israeli regime.
Israel launched a brutal bombing campaign against the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2021, following Palestinian retaliation for violent Israeli raids on worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families from their homes at the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem al-Quds. In response, Palestinian resistance movements, chief among them Hamas, launched ‘Operation al-Quds Sword’ and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories, killing 12 Israelis.
Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire later in May, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.
On a recent meeting that brought together Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and de facto ruler of the UAE Mohammed Bin Zayed, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Iranian foreign minister said, “Any meeting with any Israeli official is a betrayal of al-Quds and Palestine.”
Elsewhere in his interview, the top Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy is based on political independence and non-dependency neither to the West nor to the East.
He said the administration of President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi is following a wise diplomacy, and active cooperation with all countries.
The Iranian foreign minister said Tehran seeks to strengthen relations with Cairo based on the principle of equilibrium. Iran does not forget Egypt’s stance on the issue of Syria, Amir Abdollahian said, but there are numerous commonalities between Tehran and Cairo that need to be taken into consideration for expansion of relations.
He said Arab countries play an important role in the Muslim world. Tehran is extending hands of cooperation toward various neighbors, including the Arab littoral states of the Persian Gulf, the minister added.
The Iranian foreign minister said the country was ready to hold the fifth round of negotiations with Saudi Arabia, challenges in bilateral relations notwithstanding.
He added that Iran is not the party to blame for lack of good relations with Saudi Arabia, rather it was Riyadh that severed ties with Tehran.
The two countries have held four rounds of talks in Iraq since April 2021, including a meeting in December under the administration of President Rayeesi.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016, after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.
In the years that ensued, the kingdom pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic.
Riyadh has apparently reversed track.
The two neighbors remain deeply divided over a host of regional issues, not least the destructive Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Tehran and Riyadh have equally hinted that some progress has been made in the recent rounds of negotiations.
Amir Abdollahian emphasized that certain contradictory and inappropriate behavior on the part of Saudi Arabia, including the execution of 81 people in just one day, affects Tehran-Riyadh relations.
The Saudis do not want good relations with Iran, the foreign minister stated.
Iran enjoys brotherly and good relations with most of the Arab countries, including Kuwait and the UAE, he said, adding that Tehran has informed Riyadh that “the situation in Yemen is for the Yemeni people, who are the only ones to decide.”
Hailing Yemen’s defense of its sovereignty, the top Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic favors an end to the war and blockade of the impoverished country.
Also in his remarks, Amir Abdollahian said Iran and the G4+1 group of countries are close to a final agreement in the Austrian capital of Vienna on a possible revival of the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, he said, imperative to Iran is the way the sanctions will be removed and guarantees will be provided.
The Iranian foreign minister said the United States has been trying in recent weeks to start direct negotiations with Tehran on the outstanding issues.
If the administration of US President Joe Biden is serious, it must show good faith before considering direct negotiations, Amir Abdollahian said.
On his recent visit to Moscow, Iran’s foreign minister said his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, had expressed Russia’s support for a final agreement in Vienna.
Amir Abdollahian said Iran was working to reach a good and stable agreement provided that its redlines are respected.
The Vienna talks began almost a year ago with the aim of bringing the US into full compliance with the JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran deal and removal of sanctions against Iran. The US left the JCPOA in 2018 under former president Donald Trump and re-imposed the sanctions that the deal had lifted.
The administration of Joe Biden has rebuked Trump’s withdrawal from the accord and insisted on re-entering the deal, all while dragging the talks via its failure to provide Iran with guarantees that Washington will not exit the JCPOA again.
Throughout the talks, Iran has pressed the US for the guarantees as well as the establishment of a verification mechanism on the removal of sanctions.
Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday that Tehran is ready for an agreement in Vienna talks in the near future if Washington adopts a realistic view.
Amir Abdollahian made the remarks after a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mikdad in Damascus.
He said the two diplomats discussed the latest developments surrounding the Vienna talks and other issues of mutual interest.
“If the American side acts realistically, we are ready to finalize an agreement in the near future in the presence of the foreign ministers of the member states of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Amir Abdollahian said.
“We have explicitly stated to the American side that we will not [abandon] our red lines,” he said, meantime voicing optimism about the prospects of reaching a deal.
“We believe that today, more than ever, we are closer to reaching and finalizing an agreement in Vienna,” Amir Abdollahian said.
“We offered our last proposals to the US through the EU coordinator to reach a definite point on [finalizing] the agreement.”
Also, Amir Abdollahian said on Monday that settlement of the few highly important issues remaining in Vienna talks on removal of sanctions needs the US good faith.
“We are close to the final stage of the agreement. For the few remaining very important issues, we have presented initiatives to the United States through the EU Coordinator. It is now up to the American side to show its good faith in action,” Amir Abdollahian said in a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.
Meantime, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said earlier this month that his country will remain in Vienna talks until it earns a strong agreement.
“All pillars of the Iranian state – in spite of all external and internal hype – work hard to preserve and advance Iran’s national interests,” Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page.
“We will remain in the Vienna talks until we reach a ‘strong agreement’ that meets all our legal and logical demands”, he added.
Shamkhani warned that the Vienna talks are growing even more complicated because the US continues to avoid making the necessary political decisions.
“US approach to Iran’s principled demands, coupled with its unreasonable offers and unjustified pressure to hastily reach an agreement, show that US isn’t interested in a strong deal that would satisfy both parties. Absent US political decision, the talks get knottier by the hour,” Shamkhani wrote on his twitter page.