Steinmeier visit sparks confusion over Iran plan

23rd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 May 2006, ABU DHABI - Governments in the Gulf region on Monday sent conflicting signals over whether they had agreed a joint initiative in the dispute over Iran's nuclear enrichment programme.

23 May 2006

ABU DHABI - Governments in the Gulf region on Monday sent conflicting signals over whether they had agreed a joint initiative in the dispute over Iran's nuclear enrichment programme.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan said a high-level delegation from Oman would travel to Tehran to express the region's concerns over the West's dispute with Iran and seek a solution. The Secretary General of the six- nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) would also attend.

But Oman's foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi earlier Monday denied that his country was to lead a delegation to Tehran on behalf of the GCC. That was not on the agenda, bin Alawi said, adding that he had no plans to travel to Tehran himself.

Abdullah said the new initiative had been decided on by the GCC during an earlier meeting in Riyadh.

Both foreign ministers spoke after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is on a six-day tour of the region.

Steinmeier said that all countries were in agreement over the threat that an Iranian nuclear programme posed. The development of nuclear weapons by Iran could not be counted out, he said.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear enrichment programme is intended for peaceful purposes only, but the US and European Union believe Iran plans to build atomic weapons.

The German foreign minister also urged Gulf states to become more actively involved in seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

His comments were echoed by the UAE foreign minister.

"There is no doubt that the reason for our concerns is the (nuclear) programme," Abdullah said.

After meeting with Steinmeier earlier in the day, Oman's foreign minister bin Alawi said the objective of negotiations with Iran "should be to reach a peaceful solution which was acceptable to all those involved."

Steinmeier arrived Monday in Abu Dhabi, from Muskat, as part of a Gulf tour to boost cooperation with the oil-rich regional states, the local news agency WAM reported.

During his visit to the UAE, Steinmeier was to hold talks with senior officials, focusing on ways to boost cooperation in political, economic, cultural and energy spheres.

The tour is Steinmeier's first in the region since becoming Germany's foreign minister. He is accompanied by a delegation of businessmen, with a focus on the energy sector.

He was received at the Abu Dhabi's airport by Abdullah Rashid Al Nuaimi, the Foreign Ministry's under secretary, and Obeid Salem Al Zaabi, director of protocol at the ministry, among other senior officials.

Steinmeier's visit to the UAE is the third by a German minister this year, following the visits of Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Economics Minister Michael Glos.

The minister was also to attend the official opening in Abu Dhabi of a joint office of the Goethe Institute and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).

Steinmeier will travel on to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.


Subject: German news

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