Kerry briefs wary Gulf ministers after Iran nuclear talks

March 5, 2015 10:08 am
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US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, during a meeting of Gulf foreign ministers at Riyadh Air Base, on March 5, 2015 in the Saudi capital/AFP
US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, during a meeting of Gulf foreign ministers at Riyadh Air Base, on March 5, 2015 in the Saudi capital/AFP

, RIYADH, Mar 5- US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday briefed wary Gulf ministers about his latest nuclear talks with Iran as Washington and its regional allies seek to stabilise a troubled Middle East.

Fresh from three days of talks in Switzerland, Kerry gathered at a Riyadh air base with foreign ministers from the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations.

Their agenda is also expected to include ways of reinforcing the battle against jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Kerry arrived after talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, aiming to seal a nuclear deal with Tehran ahead of a March 31 deadline.

Sunni Gulf nations remain wary about the growing rapprochement between Shiite-dominated Iran and Washington.

But Kerry sought to allay fears, saying Washington remained concerned about Iran’s bid to spread its influence in the region.

“For all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region — and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections — the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he told reporters Wednesday before leaving Switzerland.

Iran has provided military assistance to Syria to fight anti regime forces and to Iraq for the battle against Sunni extremists.

It is also accused of backing Huthi Shiite militiamen who have seized the capital in Saudi Arabia’s neighbour, Yemen, and paralysed the Western back government.

“Even as we negotiate, this in no way represents a broader warming of ties, lessening of concerns on our part,” insisted Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

“This is not about a broader rapprochement in any way. This is about the nuclear issue and that’s it,” she added.

The so called P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany is trying to strike an accord that would prevent Tehran — Riyadh’s regional rival — from developing a nuclear bomb.

In return, the West would ease punishing sanctions on Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is purely civilian.

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