| 7 February 2023, Tuesday |

Qatar diplomat visits Iran as Tehran and Washington consider direct nuclear talks

Qatar’s top diplomat visited Iran on Thursday, according to official media in both nations, only days before Qatar’s ruling emir travels to Washington for talks at a critical juncture in Tehran and major powers’ efforts to resurrect a 2015 nuclear deal.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-visit Thani’s comes after his Iranian colleague Hossein Amir Abdollahian indicated on Monday that Tehran is willing to discuss direct negotiations with Washington if it believes it can reach a “fair nuclear agreement.”

IRNA, Iran’s main news agency, broadcast images of the two men meeting in Tehran. IRNA, on the other hand, stated that the visit was not designed to establish direct negotiations with Washington.

“While Doha and Tehran have solid and tight connections, this visit… has fed certain misunderstandings.” Some are creating it in order to enable direct discussions with the US,” IRNA said.

Since April, the US and Iran have undertaken eight rounds of indirect discussions in Vienna to re-establish the accord that removed sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

Following the withdrawal of then-US President Donald Trump from the nuclear agreement in 2018 and the reimposition of punishing sanctions, Iran progressively began to violate the pact’s nuclear limits.

Significant gaps remain over the timing and extent of returning to the deal, including Iran’s desire for a US commitment that no more punitive actions will be taken, as well as how and when Iran’s atomic program will be curtailed.

On January 31, Qatar’s governing emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will meet with US President Joe Biden, who will discuss attempts to rescue the accord. Sheikh Mohammed, the minister, is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Friday ahead of the emir’s visit.

Prisoner liberation
Amir Abdollahian earlier met with Sheikh Tamim and Sheikh Mohammed on January 11 in Doha. During that visit, he requested Qatar to mediate the release of dual-national Iranian-Americans and Iranian-Europeans imprisoned in Iran, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, who spoke to Reuters this week.

Reuters was unable to determine whether Qatar consented to the request, but the Gulf Arab state has before actively assisted in the release of foreign detainees in other nations.

  • Reuters