MANAMA, (Agencies) – Iran sought on Saturday to calm the fears of its Arab neighbours, saying it would never use force against them because they are Muslims, after the United States highlighted concerns over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons programme.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was speaking at a conference on Middle East security at which Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks must be rescued from collapse to ensure regional and world stability.
“We have never used our force against our neighbours and never will because our neighbours are Muslims,” Mottaki told journalists on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened on Friday.
“Your power in the region is our power and our power is your power.”
Clinton had said US concerns over Tehran’s nuclear programme are shared by Iran’s neighbours in the Gulf, through which most of the world’s oil flows.
Mottaki cautioned against submitting to “pressure by outsiders to divide us and create instability,” saying “the presence of foreign powers will not help establish security in the region” and urging cooperation among Gulf countries.
He said it was vital for Iran to “have stability and security, because we (Iran and its neighbours) provide the world with most of its energy.”
“Iran is determined to guarantee international security in the field of energy.”
Clinton said “there is no debate in the international community, and perhaps the Iranians will engage seriously… on what is a concern shared by nations on every continent, but most particularly right here in the region.”
She was referring to talks due to start between major powers and Iran in Geneva on Monday over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
“Because obviously if you’re the neighbour of a country that is pursuing nuclear weapons, that is viewed in a much more threatening way than if you’re a concerned country many thousands of miles away. But the concern is the same and we hope that Iran will respond.”