Coordination with Gulf increases as US, world powers align focus on Iran nuclear deal

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Gulf countries’ involvement in the Vienna talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal has increased significantly as of late, as GCC officials meet with their US and Western counterparts while direct negotiations between Tehran and world powers are ongoing.

Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Prince Abdullah bin Khaled said on Wednesday that GCC representatives in Vienna met with US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley to discuss Iran’s nuclear deal and its malign activities in the region.

“[During the meeting] Mr. Malley reviewed the latest developments of the Vienna Talks, and we emphasized the security concerns regarding the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's interventions in the region to destabilize security through its support for terrorist militias,” the Prince tweeted.

This announcement is the latest in a series of increasing coordination between the US and the Gulf when it comes to the Vienna talks to revive the abandoned 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The GCC has long believed it necessary to be included in nuclear talks because they directly affect the region.

The Gulf officials’ meeting with Malley comes a few days after the US official met with Prince Abdullah to update him on the latest developments of the Vienna talks.

Gulf countries have long said Iran needed to stop its malign activities in the region through providing financial and military support to its network of proxy militias across the Middle East, including in countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz recently listed what the Gulf considers are Iran’s offenses: “The formation and support of sectarian and armed militias, the systemic deployment of its military capabilities in regional countries and its failure to cooperate with the international community regarding its nuclear program and the development of ballistic missiles.”


Nevertheless, mixed signals came out of Vienna on Wednesday as Western capitals and Iranian officials continue their efforts to reach a nuclear deal, which has been a priority of US President Joe Biden since he took office.

Russia’s de-facto spokesperson at the talks said he felt that negotiations were moving forward.

The US special envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, met with a broad range of officials, including Gulf diplomats to update them on the latest developments.

“Met with the #US Special Envoy for #Iran Mr. Robert Malley. As usual, we had a productive discussion on the remaining most difficult issues to be settled in the course of the #ViennaTalks. The feeling is that the negotiations are moving forward,” Russia’s ambassador to Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted.

Asked by Al Arabiya English if he was more or less optimistic about a positive outcome than he was at the start of the latest round of talks, Ulyanov said he had reason for hope.

“I was quite optimistic at the beginning of this round. Now I am even more optimistic. My experience tells me that difficulties in the course of such complicated negotiations are inevitable. That’s why I perceive them more philosophically than the majority of others,” he said.

The Russian diplomat did not immediately respond when asked if an interim deal was being floated as a proposal.

Read more:

US envoy Malley meets with Saudi diplomat to discuss Iran nuclear deal

King Salman: Iran must cooperate in nuclear deal, stop supporting militias in region

Iran, US lock horns over sanctions relief, nuclear curbs in Vienna talks

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