Iran plays down GCC offer for strategic dialogue

Iran: Regional issues could be resolved through bilateral negotiations

A statement from Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi regarding a Kuwaiti mediation between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been assailed as negative.

A highly-placed source at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the “stance of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman is negative and does not serve the move to ease the tensions in the GCC-Iranian relationship,” Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah reported on Thursday. The daily did not name the Kuwaiti source.

On Tuesday, Ghasemi said that he could not confirm the existence of mediation by Kuwait between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Issues related to regional countries could be resolved through bilateral negotiations without the need for mediators,” Ghasemi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Mehr news agency. “Should Saudis be ready to take steps to compensate for earlier lapses and express readiness for further cooperation, Iran would definitely welcome these initiatives.”

On January 25, Kuwait’s foreign minister Shaikh Sabah Khalid Al Sabah made a rare visit to Iran with a message from the GCC to start a strategic GCC-Iran dialogue based on the principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries and respect for the sovereignty of other countries.

Following the GCC summit in Bahrain in December, a Kuwaiti official said that his country would hand over a message from the GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — to Iran.

Commenting on the visit, Ghasemi said that the Kuwaiti minister “carried a message from his country’s Emir on economic and political issues” and “exchanged views on regional issues like Syrian and Iraqi crises.”

“Kuwait is our neighbour and we have specific policies and stances towards it, though the Islamic Republic of Iran is eager to hold logical, appropriate and balanced ties with all neighbouring countries,” he said.

“Iran and Kuwait have always had relations and cooperation. The visit needs to be evaluated within framework of bilateral ties and a response Zarif’s visit to Kuwait last year.”

The visit also dealt with factors which could promote stability and prevent further challenges inside the region, he said.