Qatar's Ruler Meets Iran's President in Bid to Salvage Nuclear Deal

Iran's President Raisi seized the opportunity to slam Western nations, insisting that their presence is not 'providing security in the region' but 'harming the security'

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Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, in March.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, in March.Credit: IBRAHEEM AL OMARI/ REUTERS

Qatar’s emir met with Iran's president on Thursday, offering support for efforts to revive the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, even as talks on the tattered accord remain deadlocked.

“We believe that negotiation is the solution of the problem,” the official IRNA news agency quoted visiting Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as saying after meeting President Ebrahim Raisi. The two also discussed a range of other issues, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the war in Yemen,

Raisi seized the opportunity to slam Western nations, insisting that their presence is not “providing security in the region" but “harming the security.” Iran sees the presence of U.S. forces in neighboring countries – on its doorstep – as a threat.

A nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which went online with American help in 1967, in 2014.Credit: Vahid Salemi /AP

Raisi described Sheikh Tamim's one-day visit to Tehran as a turning point in relations between Iran and Qatar.

The visit came as the European Union’s coordinator on nuclear talks, Enrique Mora, was still in Iran. The talks in Vienna have been stalled for months, apparently over an Iranian demand that Washington lift a terrorism designation on Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Mora met with the Iranian nuclear negotiator on Wednesday, just after Iranian intelligence services announced they had detained two European citizens. Talks continued on Thursday, Iranian media reported without giving details.

The stakes are high, since failure to reinstate the pact could carry the risk of a fresh regional war, with Israel, Iran's arch-foe, threatening military action if diplomacy collapses.

Almost a year of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to save the pact has been on hold since March, chiefly over Tehran's insistence that the U.S. remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

Washington has made it clear that it has no such plans, while also not ruling it out.

Iran's hardline rulers believe that an uncompromising approach, spearheaded by the country's strongly anti-Western Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, can force Washington to accept Tehran’s demands, Iranian officials told Reuters last month.

Under the 2015 pact, Iran curbed its sensitive uranium enrichment work, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

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