US Secretary of State John Kerry has sought to reassure Israel and Washington’s allies over the possibility of US-Iran rapprochement, saying that an agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue will protect them better. Kerry also revealed that Tehran withdrew from the negotiations in Geneva, which is why an agreement with Western countries has not been reached yet.
Kerry held a press conference in Abu Dhabi, the last stop of his ten day tour that included a surprise visit to Geneva, to say: “We hope that we can reach an acceptable agreement during the coming months.”
While Kerry noted that he understands Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns, he explained that the “sanctions were imposed to lead to negotiations. What we’re doing will protect Israel more effectively.” US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has also been trying to assuage Israeli concerns, stressing that “Washington would never allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.”
The Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, which Kerry visited last week, are also suspicious of any US rapprochement with Iran because they fear the latter’s regional ambitions. Nevertheless, the UAE also suffers from the sanctions imposed on its traditional trading partner.
Abu Dhabi officials told Kerry that the trade volume with Iran had declined from $23 billion to $4 billion, which constitutes a serious sacrifice. During a press conference with his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, Kerry said that: “Washington will defend its allies in the region,” stressing that the US maintains solid and permanent relations with the UAE.
For his part, Sheikh Abdullah remarked that “there are exaggerations about the tensions between the US and its allies. There may be differences in views, but not on the overall strategy in the region. The relationship between the UAE and the US is at its best.”
Meanwhile, Kerry revealed that Iran was the party that decided to leave the negotiating table after three days of marathon talks with the G5+1 countries, which include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
Kerry explained that the G5+1 was united while submitting its proposal to the Iranians on Saturday, adding that: “The French signed off on it, we signed off on it…There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it. At that particular moment they weren’t able to accept. Our hope is that in the next months we can find an agreement that meets everyone’s standards.”
According to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius: “the major powers were not far from reaching an agreement with Iran. But there were two or three issues which posed difficulties.”
Iran demands for the international community to recognize its right to enrich uranium on its own territory, and US diplomats have indicated that this has been the main obstacle.
Sheikh Abdullah noted that the UAE “has a transparent and peaceful nuclear programme and accepts international partnership. We will not enrich uranium.”