As part of his regional trip, President Joe Biden will begin with Israel on 13 July and then move on to Riyadh where he will be attending a GCC+3 summit.
The United Stated Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended Qatar’s efforts in the region, in particular with its diplomatic assistance in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and its mediation role in reviving the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
During a phone conversation with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Sunday, the secretary lauded Doha’s efforts in helping to attain a mutual return to full implementation of the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It comes as Doha takes on a role as host of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to help kickstart stalled negotiations.
The two-day talks held in the Qatari capital was brokered by the European Union in a bid to break a months-long impasse in negotiations to secure the restoration of the JCPOA. However, the first round came to an end with little progress last week.
Sources familiar with the two-day talks pointed the blame at Washington’s inflexibility to guarantee Iran’s economic benefit under the deal, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The obstacle impeding a successful finalisation in the latest round of talks is reportedly due to US’ insistence on a plan it had proposed during the seventh round of the Vienna talks, “which excludes any guarantee that Iran will enjoy economic benefits” from the deal.
A US State Department spokesperson claimed on Wednesday: “While we are very grateful to the EU for its efforts, we are disappointed that Iran has, yet again, failed to respond positively to the EU’s initiative and therefore that no progress was made,” CNN reported.
The spokesperson went on to say that Iran “raised issues wholly unrelated to the JCPOA and apparently is not ready to make a fundamental decision on whether it wants to revive the deal or bury it.”
Slamming those arguments, Mohammad Marandi, an advisor to the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, said that the Doha talks on discussing outstanding disputes over the nuclear accord have “not failed and the negotiations will continue.”
Saying that the negotiations were not expected to halt in just two days, Marandi said “we do not take US media statements as serious.”
“The Americans must provide the guarantees that Iran wants to make sure that they do not stab us in the back like in the past,” he added.
Marandi further stated the talks did not cease to develop after the Vienna talks pause, however, he went on to describe the Doha talks in the last two days as a “focused negotiation.”
Amir-president phone call
Referring to talks over lifting of sanctions on Tehran in both Vienna and Doha during a phone call with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that Tehran’s assessment of the recent talks in Doha was “positive,” and added that his country is “serious and honest to reach the final point of agreement […] but the American side had no initiatives based on innovation and progress in Doha,” according to reports.
Meanwhile, a phone call held between the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday, saw the latter stress Tehran’s view on the unilateral sanctions as “unjust, illegal, and against the international rules and regulations,”
Iran “defends its rights and continues its efforts aimed at removal of sanctions with required guarantees,” Raisi said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
On the sidelines of the International Conference of American Human Rights held in Iran on Sunday, Bagheri Kani said that negotiations in Doha was “formed within the framework that had previously been specified, so that continuation of talks is based on the agreement which is underway between Iran and EU as represented by the Deputy EU Foreign Policy Chief Enrique Mora,” Mehr News Agency reported.
The time and place of the next round of negotiation talks between the Iranian side and Mora are underway and is currently being finalised, Bagheri Kani confirmed.
The talks, Bloomberg reported, are likely to resume following US President Joe Biden’s visit to the region in July.
A third person familiar with the talks disclosed that efforts could continue in Doha following Biden’s trip.
A successful mediation between Iran and the US would “once again add to the perception that Qatar offers a very useful role in regional diplomacy by enabling parties who cannot fully engage with each other directly, to exchange ideas and offers through a 3rd-party trusted intermediary,” Dr Gerd Nonneman, professor of International Relations and Gulf Studies at Georgetown University Qatar told Doha News.
In the phone call between the US official and Qatari FM on Sunday, Blinken also praised Qatar’s announcement to provide an additional $60 million pledge in support for the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Coinciding with the Qatari foreign minister’s visit to Lebanon to attend the Arab Foreign Ministers Consultative Meeting assembled by Beirut, the hefty sum pledge was earmarked to support the salaries of Lebanese soldiers, two sources briefed on the deal told Reuters.
The US official also expressed gratitude for Qatar’s diplomatic assistance with Afghanistan.