Asharq Al-Awsat – Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has stated that Iran is studying the invitation sent to it to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] summit which is slated to be held in the Sultanate of Oman next February and said Tehran will announce whether it will participate or not when the date for the summit nears.
Mottaki described as “inappropriate” GCC Secretary General Abdul-Rahman al-Atiyah’s comparison of Iran’s occupation of the United Arab Emirates [UAE] islands to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Iranian sources refused to disclose how Tehran was invited to take part in the summit telling Asharq Al-Awsat that “Iranian-Gulf consultations have not stopped and the latest was Amir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani’s visit to Tehran last week and the meeting of the joint Iranian-Omani military committee in Muscat yesterday.”
But Gulf sources asserted yesterday that Gulf countries did not know anything about inviting Ahmadinejad to attend the GCC summit. Gulf sources in Kuwait said Kuwait was not informed of the invitation to Ahmadinejad and told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Kuwait was not consulted or expressed an opinion on this question. It did not receive any request or desire to possibly invite the Iranian president to the upcoming GCC summit.” The sources stressed that such issues have their own diplomatic particulars since “the Sultanate of Oman will be sending the invitations to the summit because it will be chairing it. Therefore it remains a sovereign right concerning the sultanate alone. As for us, we have not received anything about this matter.”
Commenting on the invitation and the likelihood of the Iranian president participating in it, the same sources ruled out the presence of the Iranian president at the summit, if he was officially invited, for several reasons, the first of which is that “the Iranian presence at the recent summit in Doha caused much embarrassment, especially for the UAE side, in addition to the Iranian officials’ statements about closing the Straits of Hormuz and the opening of Iranian officials in the occupied UAE islands.
This signals that the Gulf countries will not accept the Iranian presence, even if some parties invited President Ahmadinejad to attend it.” The diplomatic sources concluded by pointing out that the “GCC foreign ministers who will attend their 108th meeting, which is scheduled to be held on Tuesday in Jeddah under Qatar’s chairmanship, might discuss such a request if it was presented officially, amid speculations that it will not be officially submitted to the conferees since three months separate us from the summit and the issue still remains under discussion. But if it was submitted unofficially, then we would voice our opinion of it but would not make any decision before it is officially submitted.” While the GCC secretariat refused to comment on Asharq Al-Awsat’s questions about reports of hosting Ahmadinejad at the Muscat summit, an informed Gulf source stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “such a question concerns the host country and it is one of its affairs.”
On the other hand, Gulf sources refused to get involved in an argument over recent Iranian statements about the UAE islands, saying the GCC has expressed its view of this issue and asserted that the islands belong to the UAE and it has nothing new to add here. Kazem Jalali, the rapporteur of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, criticized GCC Secretary General Abdul-Rahman al-Atiyah’s statement about the three disputed islands and called it “inflammatory discourse” and “influenced by the great powers and their satanic policies.”
Meanwhile, Iranian sources said a round of negotiations would start soon between Saeed Jalili, the official in charge of the Iranian nuclear dossier, and Javier Solana, the EU’s official in charge of foreign and security affairs, over the Iranian nuclear dossier. They said consultations are continuing between the two sides and revolve around “the framework and system of starting the new negotiations” amid optimism that the upcoming round of talks will result in a compromise between the Western incentives package to Iran and the Iranian proposals.
The sources, which spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, pointed out that the discussion is continuing between the Iranian and Western sides over “suspending” or “freezing” the enrichment of uranium, adding that Iran is still adhering to its stand which rejects the suspension of enrichment as the aim of the negotiations and also refuses to freeze the enrichment as a precondition for the negotiations.