London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah has downplayed reports about Oman’s role in Sunday’s nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1 group of states in Geneva in exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Referring to reports that senior US and Iranian diplomats secretly met in the Gulf Sultanate prior to the deal, Alawi said the leaked reports had been exaggerated. He stressed that the reality was that both sides had a joint interest in reaching a political solution.
The Omani foreign minister told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are happy [with the deal] because the alternative is war, and because the two parties—the six major powers and Iran—have reached an agreement that satisfied both sides.”
“The agreement needs time because it is gradual and the real test is in its implementation,” he continued. “However, I think the parties that participated in the negotiations in Geneva and reached this agreement share a common interest in securing a political resolution to the crisis, and this will naturally reflect on the stability of the region.”
Alawi added: “This is a new phase which must be given a chance to resolve the region’s problems in a peaceful and reciprocal manner which benefits all parties. It [the deal] is a step in the right direction.”
Commenting on the reaction within the Gulf to the deal, the Omani foreign minister said: “The Gulf states have a strategic interest in stability, and this is clear to us. The Iranians are our neighbors, and it is clear that everyone wants a resolution to the problems of the Middle East and this could be the beginning of steps towards peaceful solutions in the region.
“We have had enough of wars and hostilities, and we must provide the future generations with an atmosphere of regional stability.”
Western media have quoted unnamed US and European officials confirming that at least five secret meetings took place between senior US and Iranian diplomats since March.
However, Tehran has denied the claims of secret talks between Iranian and US officials. In reports by Iranian media, a senior Iranian Foreign Ministry source on Monday denied reports about secret talks, reiterating a statement previously made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif that no discussions have taken place between Tehran and Washington outside of the framework of the P5+1 talks.
Iranian state news agency IRNA reported: “It is important for the media to be careful about reporting such mistakes and fabrications, which could affect the positive atmosphere created by the Geneva negotiations and the agreement reached by both sides.”