Qatar Minister Vies for Talks Role in Rare High Level Iran Trip
(Bloomberg) -- Qatar’s foreign minister met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a rare high-level visit by a Persian Gulf Arab official to Tehran, signaling a push to end the crisis between Iran and the U.S. that last year threatened to touch off war.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Monday that Qatar was ready to play a “key and effective role” following a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to a statement released by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
In his talks with Al Thani, an important American ally, Rouhani reiterated Iran’s stance on fully reinstating the beleaguered 2015 nuclear deal that has all but collapsed since the U.S. exited and reimposed sanctions under former President Donald Trump. Both Iran and the new Biden administration are insisting it’s up to the other side to make the first move.
Last month Al Thani called on other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to begin talks with Iran, and he has expressed a willingness to take a key role in mediating dialog, particularly if it can improve ties between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic and reduce tensions in a key waterway for oil.
As U.S. sanctions savaged Iran’s economy, the government broke its own obligations under the nuclear accord, and Trump almost triggered a conflict when he assassinated a top Iranian general in a January 2020 drone strike.
His Iran policy also involved isolating the country from the region, using support from leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both countries led efforts from 2017 to effectively blockade Qatar after accusing Doha of meddling in their internal affairs and building ties with Iran. Qatari leaders deny the charges.
Within two months of Trump’s defeat in the U.S. elections, Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE agreed to fully restore relations with Qatar.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.