Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. Image Credit: REUTERS

Manama: Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani dismissed the existence of a Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region, insisting the current standoff is mainly a division driven by political interests and fuelled by social forces.

“At the level of the region there are various creeds and religions, but there is not, in my opinion, a Shitte-Sunni conflict in essence, but rather differences that are triggered by the political interests of countries, or the interests of political and social forces that foment internal sect-centric prejudices,” Shaikh Tamim said as he addressed the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“The existing disputes in my opinion, are political, regional Arab-Iranian differences, rather than being a Sunni-Shiite dispute,” he said.

The disputes could be solved through dialogue and initially agreeing on the rules governing the relationship between Iran and the Gulf states on the basis of non-interference in internal affairs of Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, he added.

“It is time to conduct a meaningful dialogue of this kind between countries that will always remain neighbours and are not in need of mediation from anyone. Qatar is ready to host such a dialogue,” he said.

Shaikh Tamim said his country welcomed the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany), describing it as “a positive and important step”.

“As we look forward with hope that this nuclear agreement contributes to maintaining security and stability in our region, we further demand moving forward to disarm the entire region of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

“In this regard we emphasise our firm position that the Gulf region must be spared of any nuclear weapons’ dangers or threats while recognising the right of countries in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with relevant international rules.

“On this occasion, I stress that Iran is an important neighbouring country, and that co-operation between it and our countries is in the interest of the region. Bilateral relations between Qatar and Iran are growing and evolving steadily on the basis of common interests and good neighbourliness. There is no dispute concerning bilateral relations between our two countries,” he said.