U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Qatar for talks with Arab officials whose countries are wary of the nuclear deal world powers have struck with Iran, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Kerry arrived in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday after visiting Egypt, where he also spoke in favor of the agreement reached with Iran last month in Vienna.
Arab states have been repeatedly expressing their concern about the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran, warning that a final agreement could allow Iran to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Speaking in Cairo before leaving for Qatar, Kerry acknowledged Iran’s negative role in the region but said it would be easier to deal with if Tehran cannot develop a nuclear weapon.
“Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities in the region — and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains wholly peaceful,” he told reporters at news conference with Egypt’s foreign minister, according to AP.
“There can be absolutely no question that the Vienna plan, if implemented, will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be,” Kerry added.
Kerry’s meetings with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Doha on Monday are a follow-up on a May meeting that President Barack Obama hosted for Arab leaders at Camp David at which the United States promised them enhanced security cooperation and expedited defense sales to guard against a potential Iranian threat.
Saudi Arabia is the largest and most influential member of the council, which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and has been publicly supportive of the Iran deal, albeit with reservations.
Just last week, the State Department authorized the sale to Saudi Arabia of $5.4 billion in Patriot missiles and related equipment along with $500 million in ammunition.
Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the deal was so great that in May, when Saudi King Salman decided not to attend the summit at Camp David with Obama, the move was seen as a snub of Washington due to the talks with Iran.
After the deal between Iran and the West was signed, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir publicly warned Iran not to use the nuclear deal to pursue "adventures" in the Middle East, advising it to use the deal to improve its own economic situation.