Middle East

Saudi Arabia says relations with Qatar ‘very good’

Riyadh says Iran was threatening maritime navigation in Gulf

Ibrahim al-Khazen   | 04.08.2021
Saudi Arabia says relations with Qatar ‘very good’

ISTANBUL

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan has hailed his country’s relations with Qatar, saying ties between the two neighbors were “very good”.


Speaking virtually to the Aspen Security Forum, bin Faisal said a reconciliation deal signed in the Saudi city of Al Ula has resolved the disputes between the two sides and enhanced Gulf cooperation.


In January, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt agreed to restore diplomatic, trade, and travel ties with Qatar during the Gulf summit in Al Ula. The four countries severed relations with Doha in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism, an accusation vehemently denied by Qatar.


Last month, Saudi Arabia named Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan as the kingdom's first ambassador to Doha following their reconciliation.


The top Saudi diplomat said the recent normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries, known as the Abraham Accords, were good for the region, but added they must be used to find a solution to the Palestinian cause.


"Without solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a sustainable, long-term way, we are not going to have real sustainable security in the region," bin Farhan said.


In 2020, four Arab countries -- the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco -- signed normalization deals with Israel. The deals were, however, slammed by the Palestinians.


On his country's relation with Iran, he said Tehran was threatening maritime navigation in the Gulf and was part of the problem and crisis in Lebanon.


He, however, said "we would very much welcome Iran as a productive part of the region" if it stops supporting militias across the region and give up its nuclear program.


Bin Farhan said Riyadh would go with a "longer and stronger" nuclear deal with Iran than that of the 2015 nuclear deal.


"We certainly support a deal with Iran as long as that deal ensures that Iran will not now or ever gain access to nuclear weapons technology," he added.


Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and went on to re-impose sanctions on Tehran lifted under the agreement in a failed push to bring Iran back to the negotiating table for a more extensive agreement.


The 2015 deal placed sweeping constraints on Iran's nuclear program and created a robust inspections regime in exchange for the lifting of biting international and the US sanctions.


Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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