Qatar calls for Iran-Gulf Arab dialogue over nuclear standoff

Iran Materials 10 March 2008 17:56 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Jabir al-Thani said the best way for Gulf Arab countries to avoid any further military confrontation in the region is to have a dialogue with Iran.

Referring to a standoff between Iran and western powers over its nascent nuclear programme, al-Thani said a frank dialogue with Tehran was vital to regional stability.

"If (the programme) is for peaceful purposes then Gulf Arab countries can benefit from it. If it is military then we should know its objective and ask whether it is meant against our countries," the Sheikh told a conference in Doha.

Efforts undertaken by the International Atomic Energy Agency to determine the nature of Iran's nuclear programme are key to finding the truth about the programme, the Qatari premier said.

The US and its western allies accuse Iran of seeking to produce nuclear weapons and are urging Gulf countries to sever growing economic ties with Tehran.

Gulf Arabs have snubbed calls for boycotting Iran, favouring a rapprochement with their neighbour whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended their December summit on the invitation of the Qatari host.

Al-Thani warned against international attempts to push the region into another "military adventure".

The Gulf region was affected by the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which led to the US-led war on Iraq in 1991, and finally the war on Iraq in 2003.