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Zarif: Iran won’t negotiate with West on region, but open to talks with neighbors

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran will not engage in talks with the Western countries on the region due to their interventionist approach, but always stands ready for dialog with its neighbors.

In an Arabic-language post on his Twitter account on Tuesday, Zarif said it seems that some of Iran’s neighboring states have asked the West to be part of the negotiations process with Tehran.

“We will not negotiate with the West over the region. The main problem is their intervention,” he noted.

“At the same time, we are always ready for talks with our neighbors. The proposals, such as the 1986 regional security, the 2016 regional dialogue forum and the 2019 Hormuz Peace Initiative (HOPE), show this.”

The tweet came days after Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said the Persian Gulf countries must be “consulted” before the United States revives a nuclear deal with Iran.

“Primarily what we expect is that we are fully consulted, that we and our other regional friends are fully consulted in what goes on vis-à-vis the negotiations with Iran,” he told AFP on the sidelines of a security conference in Bahrain’s Manama on Saturday.

The top Saudi diplomat also said such consultation would be the only path towards a “sustainable” agreement.

The Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 between Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — and was ratified in the form of Resolution 2231.

However, the US under President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the accord.

Riyadh, which enjoyed cozy relations with the Trump administration, supported Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and its “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

However, Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has hinted at returning to the nuclear deal, which was inked when he was vice president.

The prospect of the US rejoining the JCPOA has terrified Saudi Arabia amid concerns that the Biden administration may reassess Washington’s ties with the kingdom.

Biden has vowed to end support for the Yemen war, penalize human rights violations and treat Saudi Arabia like “the pariah that they are.”

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