Qatar ready to mediate between US, Iran, says deputy foreign minister

By Francesca Cicardi

Cairo, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- Qatar is ready to mediate between the United States and Iran, as US President Joe Biden takes over in the White House after the turbulent years of Donald Trump’s administration, according to Qatari deputy foreign minister Lolwah al-Khater.

In a virtual interview with Efe, al-Khater also said that Qatar is committed to engaging in a “constructive dialogue” between Tehran and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

“Qatar has expressed its willingness to play such a role, yet we have to be invited by both parties, who are still hesitant to take this step, in terms of entering and engaging in direct negotiations,” said al-Khater.

Al-Khater highlighed the role her government has played in reducing regional tensions following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Sulaymani by a US airstrike in Baghdad in early 2020.

“At that point, the region was on the verge of a military escalation. Qatar back then played the role of de-escalating the situation, and then, I think, saved the region from a potential war,” she added.

Doha maintains good relations with Washington and Tehran, although its close ties to the latter was one of the main reasons why its Gulf neighbors Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic relations almost four years ago until this month, when they agreed to lift the blockade and restore diplomatic relations.

“Iran is a geographical reality in our region and the Gulf states are a geographical reality, no one is going away, and that is why it is very important to engage in a meaningful, constructive and direct dialogue,” the Qatari deputy foreign minister explained.

“If it was important for the US to have a dialogue with Iran, then it is even more important for us as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to have a meaningful and constructive dialogue with Iran, one that will preserve the collective security of our region, the rights of our peoples and ensure a prosperous future for coming generations,” she added.

On January 5, the GCC member states (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman), signed the al-Ula agreement of reconciliation, along with Egypt, which followed in the footsteps of its Gulf allies in severing relations with Doha in 2017.

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