Iran News ...


07/25/17

No outright denial from Iran on Omani mediation with United States

Source: Tehran Times

TEHRAN - Iran neither rejected nor confirmed on Monday that Oman had acted as a go-between to pass messages between Tehran and Washington while highlighting "ongoing consultation" with the Arab sultanate.

"There is ongoing consultation (between the two countries) and the visit of Oman's foreign minister to Tehran was part of bilateral and regional affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

Qassemi was replying to a question from The Tehran Times on if the Friday sit-down between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Washington had got anything to do with Alawi's visit to Tehran on July 12.

One week after the Iran visit, U.S. President Trump spoke with Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id Al Sa'id of Oman, discussing "ways to resolve regional conflicts" and "the need to counter Iran's destabilizing activities in the region," according to a White House statement.

The Trump administration cozying up to Muscat indicates the recognition of Oman's historical role in facilitating talks with Iran.

Oman has traditionally resisted Persian Gulf Arab states' bid to close ranks against Iran. It helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to the historic nuclear deal signed two years later.

Tehran shipped its surplus low-enriched uranium, as limited by the nuclear accord, to Oman early 2017 for later sale to a foreign buyer.

Ever since inauguration as president, Trump has taken a hostile stance on Iran, and urged regional countries, led by Saudi Arabia, to "work together to isolate Iran" as he was visiting Saudi Arabia in May.

The administration also has spoken of a regime change in Iran, what Tehran followed up with a letter to the United Nations as "a brazen interventionist plan" that flies in the face of international law.

In a most recent development, Trump and his administration warned Iran in a statement on Friday to release and return what they called "unjustly detained" American citizens, otherwise, it should brace itself for "new and serious consequences".

Mediation between Tehran and Washington is more imperative than ever as there are concerns the two sides are back to a brinkmanship policy which runs the risk of direct confrontation.

In a recent op-ed, The New York Times wrote outright threats and actions - from President Trump and some of his top aides as well as Sunni Arab leaders and American hawks - is raising tensions that could lead to armed conflict with Iran, urging dialogue between the sides.

Iran has implicitly embraced a communication platform with Washington.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations last week, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that the nuclear deal "can lay the foundation, not the ceiling."

A happy piece of news in mid-July was a measure by the U.S. House of Representatives which requires the Pentagon to consider options for negotiating an Incidents at Sea Agreement with Iran and other countries operating in the Persian Gulf.

The communication hotline is expected to soothe concerns over the escalation of sea incidents in the Persian Gulf into direct military engagement between Iranian and U.S. naval forces.

... Payvand News - 07/25/17 ... --



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