MANAMA: Gulf Arab states must have a seat at nuclear talks between world powers and neighbouring Iran because of their own stake in regional stability, Qatar’s Foreign Minister H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah said yesterday.
Gulf Arab capitals cautiously welcomed an interim nuclear accord between Tehran and six powers agreed on November 24, but some officials said Western allies had not briefed them adequately on a deal central to regional as well as global security.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview, Al Attiyah said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deserved a place at the table as essential partners in regional stability. “We are in the region. We are concerned,” he said on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank.
“I know that we have good relationships and we are a strategic partner with our allies – the US, UK, France and others. So what I was thinking about, it is not only P5 plus Germany; it should be P5 plus the ... GCC.
At the end of the day (in) any agreement, the GCC is meant to be part of that agreement on the region. We are trying to say it should be 5+2,” Al Attiyah said.
Al Attiyah’s suggestion that the GCC become more closely involved in the nuclear talks was echoed at the Manama Dialogue by several serving and former officials, including former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani.
Turning to Syria, Al Attiyah said Qatar would continue providing support to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. “We work with our friends to support General Selim Idris (head of the rebel Supreme Military Council) and to facilitate whatever they want through the Friends of Syria,” Al Attiyah said.
“This is an international group ... who are there to support the Syrian people with any means they need to protect themselves from the brutality of the Syrian regime,” he said.
Attiyah said “any terrorist group worries us”, but blamed a lack of world action on Syria.