Qatar continues to consolidate its role as mediator between Iran and Western countries in the framework of the nuclear deal. Following the visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to Tehran with the aim of bringing the two sides closer together on this issue, the foreign minister made a statement on the subject. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani assured the Qatari media Al Jazeera that the Iranian authorities expressed "their readiness to compromise on the nuclear file".
Doha is seeking to push itself forward as an intermediary in a hoped-for agreement between the parties at a time when the Vienna talks have stalled. Moreover, according to the Qatari chief diplomat, reaching common ground "will boost stability in the Gulf region and help oil markets". "Pumping additional quantities of Iranian oil into the market will help stabilise oil prices and reduce inflation," he explained.
However, Tehran has denied the Qatari minister's claims, saying the remarks by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "were mistranslated by mistake or for propaganda purposes", Iran's Tasnim news agency reports.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Tasnim that Ali Khamenei did not discuss any compromise, although he did convey to Amir Al Thani that "negotiations should be productive and not a waste of time". The Iranian leader also indicated that the US "knew what to do about this", implying that the ball is now in Washington's court, where "they must make a wise political decision to fulfil their obligations", Khatibzadeh said.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has held several key phone calls in recent days. Firstly, with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to whom he stressed that Tehran is willing to reach a "good, solid and lasting agreement, but respecting its red lines", according to the Lebanese media linked to Hezbollah, Al Manar. The head of Iranian diplomacy also stressed that the reactivation of the nuclear agreement will be possible if Washington acts "logically". Moreover, Amir-Abdollahian has held talks with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who acknowledged that "Tehran has the good will to reach an agreement", according to the Tehran Times.
The Iranian side is demanding that the US remove the Revolutionary Guards from the list of terrorist organisations, a demand that, coupled with the war in Ukraine, makes it difficult for negotiations to proceed. Despite the obstacles, Qatar's emir expressed optimism about reaching an understanding between the US and Iran after his visit to Tehran, and volunteered to assist in the talks, according to Reuters.
From Washington, he has welcomed Doha's commitment to reaching a deal with Iran. Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a phone call with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in which he thanked Qatar for "Qatar's constructive role in efforts to resolve issues with Iran".
However, the Qatari leader was not the only one to visit Tehran recently for the same purpose. The EU's chief nuclear negotiator, Enrique Mora, also travelled to the Iranian capital to revive negotiations. Although he did not make much progress on the first day, during his second day the situation improved and the Iranian representatives "suggested some proposals", as a foreign diplomat in Tehran revealed to Al-Monitor. These new proposals do not include the issue of the Revolutionary Guard, but there are other "higher priority" issues, the source added.
Other European leaders, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, have recently spoken out on the nuclear deal. During a joint press conference with Emir Al Thani in Berlin, the German leader expressed his hope that "there will be an agreement between the parties to the nuclear deal", according to Reuters. Like Washington, he also acknowledged the role that Doha is playing. "Qatar is ready to participate in the resolution of this conflict," he added.
In addition to Qatar and Western leaders, Oman is another country working to expedite negotiations. "In recent months, senior Qatari and Omani diplomats made unannounced visits to Tehran," a diplomatic source told Al-Monitor. This item is likely to be on the agenda of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Muscat early this week, where he will meet with Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq al Said.
As calls for a return to the Vienna talks grow louder, Antony Blinken met in Washington with Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman over the weekend. In addition to Yemen and Ukraine, the conversation between the two focused on Iran.
Blinken and bin Salman discussed security and diplomatic coordination "to address Iranian threats, including Iran's handling of its nuclear file and its ballistic missile programme, as well as its sponsorship of terrorism," reports Arab News.