Zarif: Iran will back Saudis in case of for­eign ag­gres­sion

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

TEHRAN — In a con­cil­ia­tory ges­ture, For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif said on Mon­day that Iran will be the first to sup­port Saudi Ara­bia in case the king­dom comes un­der a for­eign ag­gres­sion.

“I hope that they (Saudis) have the same feel­ing and be ready to bridge the dif­fer­ences,” Zarif said in a press con­fer­ence in Islamabad, Pak­istan.

He noted that Iran con­sid­ers the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries as its own.

The chief diplo­mat also said that Tehran has an­nounced readi­ness to start talks with Saudi Ara­bia on con­tentious is­sues.

“The prob­lem is that Saudis think that it is ben­e­fi­cial to them if the world con­sid­ers that Iran is a threat against Saudi Ara­bia,” the for­eign min­is­ter re­marked.

Zarif said, “There is no rea­son for hos­til­ity be­tween Iran and Saudi Ara­bia. How­ever, we tell them Saudis) that you can­not pro­vide se­cu­rity from out­side of the re­gion.”

Iran and Saudi Ara­bia have been at odds since the con­flict arose in Syria in 2011. The re­la­tions suf­fered more set­backs as 464 Ira­nian pil­grims were crushed to death in a stam­pede in Mecca in Septem­ber 2015.

The re­la­tions started de­te­ri­o­rat­ing as a num­ber of Ira­ni­ans at­tacked the Saudi diplo­matic mis­sions in Tehran and Mash­had in protest to the ex­e­cu­tion of the pro-democ­racy cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Jan­uary 2016. Though se­nior Ira­nian of­fi­cials con­demned the move, Saudi com­pletely cut ties with Tehran.

Iran has been seek­ing rap­proche­ment with Saudi Ara­bia, though new rulers in Riyadh are re­luc­tant to re­spond pos­i­tively to Iran’s over­tures.

In an in­ter­view with the Tehran Times in 2017, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Saudi Ara­bia is un­der il­lu­sion in see­ing Iran as a threat.

Else­where, Zarif said that Iran and Saudi Ara­bia can in­vest in re­con­struct­ing Iraq and Syria and to do so the two coun­tries should solve their prob­lems at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

‘U.S. will be iso­lated if it quits nu­clear deal’

Zarif also said the United States will be iso­lated if it quits the 2015 nu­clear deal, of­fi­cially known as the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion.

“The U.S. does not re­spect the terms of this in­ter­na­tional deal, be­cause it does not want Iran to ben­e­fit from the agree­ment. So, the U.S. gov­ern­ment is prac­ti­cally vi­o­lat­ing the JCPOA,” he lamented.

In a state­ment on Jan­uary 12, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gave Euro­peans only 120 days to agree to an over­haul of the nu­clear agree­ment and said if the text of the nu­clear deal is not re­vised he would uni­lat­er­ally with­draw the U.S. from the agree­ment.

The JCPOA, signed be­tween Iran, the five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil - the U.S., UK, France, Rus­sia, and China - Ger­many and the Euro­pean Union in July 2015. The deal took ef­fect in Jan­uary 2016.

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