190909 Anwar Gargash
Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Image Credit: AFP

Dubai - The UAE has welcomed the intervention made by leaders of the UK, France and Germany to lower tensions and open a new path for diplomacy with Iran. Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel issued a joint statement holding Iran responsible for the missile attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities in Abqaiq on September 14. They also called for new comprehensive talks to address Iran’s nuclear weapons programme and other destabilising activities across the Middle East, including its support for violent proxies.

In an Op/Ed published in the Financial Times on Sunday, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said that by holding Iran to account, the ‘E3’ countries can discourage future attacks. “By showing common resolve, the Gulf states, the US and others can demonstrate there is room for diplomacy. What can that diplomacy offer? Most immediately, the E3 leaders can reduce the potential for miscalculations, mis-steps and retaliation on all sides. It can help convince Iran that further hostility will be counterproductive and only prolong Iran’s isolation. The E3 can help dismiss the false impression that the only choice is between war and the well-intentioned but imperfect nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

Gargash noted the E3 can open up a new channel of communication and establish greater trust. “They can help Tehran understand that the Gulf has achievable expectations — we only want Iran as a normal neighbour,” the minister wrote, adding that it is imperative to address Iran’s “worrying and destabilising behaviour”.

Gargash said Tehran must permanently end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, cease the development and proliferation of ballistic and other missiles, end support for violent proxy groups and respect the sovereignty of other nations.

“We believe that there is an opening for Iran to reach a new understanding with its neighbours and the world. Tehran should see that a new agreement could offer it the space, confidence and resources to refocus its attention on its own people rather than on its proxies abroad. A deal would be a ticket to re-enter the global trading system, build prosperity and expand opportunity. It is a blueprint for a new, shared and more stable regional order.”

He went on to say that stability has been a central objective of UAE foreign policy, noting that the UAE has avoided conflict with Iran at every turn. “We will continue to take all measures to de-escalate tensions and reduce the potential for hostilities. When necessary, we are prepared to act in self-defence, but always proportionately, judiciously and with restraint. We seek a pragmatic, diplomatic path to lowering tensions and creating an opening for meaningful talks.”