Iran invited Gulf countries Tuesday to open talks on regional security, telling the United Nations it was time to move away from “hegemonic illusions” that have fueled devastating wars.
Addressing a UN meeting on sustaining peace, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif proposed the creation of a “regional dialogue forum.”
“We here invite our neighbors in this volatile waterway, which has seen too many wars, to join us in this endeavor,” Zarif added.
The initiative came as US President Donald Trump met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Washington to discuss shared concerns about Iran’s behavior in the region.
Trump is threatening to scrap the 2015 nuclear deal reached with Iran unless concerns about Tehran’s missile program and military role in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon are addressed.
“All over, no matter where you go in the Middle East, you see fingerprints of Iran,” Trump told a news conference with Macron in Washington.
In a UN General Assembly speech, Zarif said “advancing hegemonic illusions or attempting to achieve security at the expense of the insecurity of others” had caused conflict.
The foreign minister said it was crucial to “now shift to a new paradigm based on combining our forces... instead of any one of us seeking to be the strongest in our region.”
He suggested creating new security networks to replace what he termed as “security blocks.”
Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah militias in Lebanon and backs Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The United Nations is pushing for political talks to end the war in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country that has been brought to its knees in the three-year conflict.
UN diplomats say Iran has signaled it is ready to put pressure on the Houthis to go to the negotiating table, in what some see as a sign that Tehran wants to confront US complaints about its behavior.
Zarif met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has held recent meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
On the sidelines of the UN meeting, Zarif also held talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the fate of the Iran nuclear deal as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares for her White House visit on Friday.