Iran seeks Arab support for nuclear program


But the response Sunday was cool from Arab leaders, many of them US allies worried about Iran’s growing influence in the region, especially in Iraq.

The push by Iranian hardliner Mohammed J.A. Larijani in an interview with The Associated Press came at the end of the three-day international conference, where non-Arab Iranian delegates found themselves ostracized, and occasionally criticized, by Arab officials.

Larijani, a former deputy foreign minister and the brother of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, said Arab countries should value Iran’s nuclear development because it could help them address their own energy needs.

Iran will be a partner, a brotherly partner, and will share its capabilities with the people of the region,’ Larijani told APTN on Sunday.

In contrast, he argued the West would turn a blind eye when Arab countries in the Middle East came looking for nuclear assistance.

But Arab diplomats, like Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Ilah Al Khatib, whose country is the conference host, turned a cold shoulder to Larijani and the other Iranian delegates.

There are serious flaws in the regional order and some countries are interfering in the affairs of Arab countries,’ Al Khatib said Sunday, referring to Iran’s growing influence in Iraq.

We need to see deeds on the ground and respect for Iraq’s territorial integrity,’ he said, addressing Larijani at a panel session on Iraq’s future.

Suspicion of Iran was clear in many conference venues. Iranian delegates stood by themselves during coffee breaks, as some 1,000 politicians and businessmen from Gulf Arab and Western nations, including the United States, networked in a conference hall on the shores of this Dead Sea resort town.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who led the country’s delegation, consistently found himself defending Teheran’s policies, especially in Iraq, where Sunni Arabs worry Shia Iran is aiding the flow of arms and fighters into the majority Shia country.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, lashed out at Iran at the conference on Sunday.

We say stop your interference in our internal affairs, stop settling scores on our soil, stop being part of covert plans to destabilize Iraq, and sit down with us to settle our differences, resolve outstanding issues and talk about economic cooperation,’ he said.

Al Khatib echoed these sentiments. We have to end the proxy wars,’ he said. Iraq should not become a fighting ground for others. Playing games with the sectarian divisions is like riding a wild tiger.’

Iran also clashed with Arab participants over their efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with Mottaki expressing skepticism of progress on Saturday.

Arabs at the conference pressed for the implementation of their recently revived peace initiative, which envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for lands the Jewish captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

The US and Israel have said the plan could be a basis for reviving the Arab-Israeli peace process, but Israel has expressed reservations over many of its provisions, including the call to solve the Palestinian refugee issue.

Israeli Vice premier Shimon Peres said Sunday his government would offer a counterproposal to the initiative soon. The Arab League has proposed, fine. We will make a counterproposal,’ Peres said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *