Zarif: US push to isolate Iran in region will ‘just not work’

Al JazeeraIran is ready to engage with the international community including the United States over its nuclear programme, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said, adding, however, that Tehran would not take part in discussions that did not take into account the Iranian interests.

Speaking on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference in the Qatari capital, Doha, Zarif said on Tuesday Iran would not accept a “zero-sum game” approach to solve a worsening crisis following a US decision last year to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have sharply deteriorated since US President Donald Trump’s move and the subsequent reimposition of punishing sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran to force it to renegotiate a new deal.

Referring to Trump’s insistence on the need for a new agreement, Zarif said Iran was “not afraid of deals or meetings” but added that “everyone is required to live up to their own commitments”.

“The survival of any agreement depends on each party gaining something from it,” he said at the event in the Qatar National Museum.

Excluding Iran ‘will not work’

Zarif said US sanctions against Iran have “failed”, adding that Washington’s policy to exclude Iran “from any regional arrangement – whether in Syria, Afghanistan or Yemen – will just not work”.

The foreign minister reiterated Iran’s own initiative to resolve regional crises through the “Hormuz initiative”, named after the strategically-important maritime passageway through which most of the Middle East’s oil is exported to world’s markets.

First proposed by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani during his speech at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September, the initiative envisions regional cooperation between Persian Gulf states, including Iran, to resolve energy, security and political differences.

Zarif also accused Saudi Arabia of attempting to isolate Iran, Turkey and Qatar from regional security arrangements, calling such efforts “unacceptable”.

“We all have to come together,” he said.

Drawing leaders from around the world, the Munich Security conference will address major regional and international issues, including the long-running conflicts in Syria and Yemen as well as weapons proliferation and internet and energy security.