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Friday, December 3, 2021

US envoy to Iran in Qatar amid stalled nuclear talks

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The EU downplayed the potential of preparatory talks in Brussels this week.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley in Doha on Tuesday amid stalled talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear accord.

The two diplomats reviewed bilateral cooperation and the latest regional developments, “particularly Iran”, the Gulf state’s foreign ministry said.

Malley was in the UAE on Monday, where he met with National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Presidential Advisor Anwar Gargash.

According to the US mission to the UAE, the diplomats discussed their “shared commitment to diplomatic solutions to regional security challenges, including Iran’s nuclear activities”.

Malley is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia before heading back to Washington.

While no further information was revealed regarding Malley’s visit to Doha, it comes as Qatar calls on the international community to resume stalled nuclear talks in Vienna to accelerate the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

EU plays down possibility of nuclear talks in Brussels this week

“We want a quiet region. We hold consultations with Iran and keep our channels open with Tehran. We do not want to see a nuclear race in the region,” said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in an interview with the US Council on Foreign Relations [CFR]  in September.

On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in which the two officials discussed bilateral cooperation and the latest regional developments.

The restoration of the JCPOA following the US withdrawal in 2018 has been a priority among members of the P4+1, with parties involved in the accord seeking the resumption of Vienna talks for months.

Indirect US-Iran talks kicked off in Vienna in April this year to revive the 2015 nuclear accord following Washington’s withdrawal, with both sides expressing their readiness to restore the accord at the time.

On Monday, the EU downplayed the potential of holding preparatory talks in Brussels this Thursday despite earlier statements by Iranian officials.

The talks, which would be the first to take place under the new Ebrahim Raisi administration, were seen as a preparatory step towards discussions in Vienna. Those discussions were paused in June ahead of Iran’s presidential elections.

Earlier this year, Qatar said it will spare no effort to mediate between the US and Iran.

The Gulf state also expressed its readiness to mediate between Iran and its rival Saudi Arabia since the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration on 5 January.

“Our aim is to reach a regional security understanding between the GCC and Iran. Iran is our neighbour, Iran is a player in our region and we cannot deny it,” said Sheikh Mohammed during the Global Security Forum [GSF] on 31 October.


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