TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) – Iraq’s foreign minister on Thursday called for direct talks between Iran and the United States, Iranian media reported, days after world powers resumed talks on a broken nuclear deal in Vienna. A rare appeal first.
Fuad Hussein told a news conference after meeting his Iranian counterpart in Tehran that rising tensions between Iran and the US – two powerful allies of Baghdad – directly affect the stability of his country.
While Iraq remains a pillar of Washington’s security policy in the region, Iranian-backed militias wield extensive power in the country.
“Any opening in Tehran-Washington relations will positively affect the internal situation in Iraq from a political, economic and security point of view,” Hussein said.
“We think it is time for direct talks between Tehran and Washington so that the two countries reach a consensus not only on the nuclear issue but also on the sanctions imposed on Iran,” he said.
Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for sanctions on its nuclear program. The US withdrew from the agreement three years ago under the then President Donald Trump. In response, Iran has stepped up its nuclear program and is now spinning up reserves of 60% purity uranium – a small technological step up from weapons-grade levels.
Tehran has taken a tough stand in talks Ever since conservative President Ibrahim Raisi came into office. Panic is brewing among European countries at the negotiating table in the capital of Austria. EU said parties to the historic deal would resume their efforts on Monday,
Iran has refused to speak directly to US officials during the talks since the US abandoned the deal.
Hussein also spoke about the hasty and sudden death of Iran’s top diplomat in war-torn Yemen., Hassan Erlu, whom Washington has identified as a member of Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. He said the US collaborated with Saudi Arabia and Iran to transfer Irlu on an Iraqi plane from Yemen to Tehran, where Iranian officials said he died of COVID-19.
There was no immediate comment from Washington on its alleged aid. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have sought permission for his transfer from Saudi Arabia, which imposes an air blockade on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
Speaking with Hussein, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadollahian repeatedly called for the US to lift sanctions before withdrawing Iran’s nuclear development.
Addressing the West, he said, “We insist that if you want your concerns on Iran’s peaceful nuclear issue to be addressed, all sanctions related to the nuclear deal must be removed.”
Amirbadullahian also said that Baghdad-broker talks between Iran and its longtime Sunni rival Saudi Arabia are on.
“We will participate in the upcoming round of talks in Baghdad (with Saudi Arabia),” he said, thanking Hussein and Iraq’s prime minister for their “support”.
He said three Iranian diplomats had been given visas to be stationed in the Saudi city of Jeddah at the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a body of Muslim nations. Saudi officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 after protesters attacked the Sunni kingdom’s embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of a prominent Shia cleric. The powerhouses support opposite sides of Yemen’s escalating conflict and remain at war for influence across the region.
Baghdad has played an important role in trying to defuse tensions between rivals.