Iran: Nuclear deal is new chance for regional cooperation

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures as he talks with journalist from a balcony of the Palais Coburg hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (Reuters)

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Nouri DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran, embarking on a diplomatic offensive in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers, told fellow Muslim countries on Friday it hoped the historic accord could pave the way for more cooperation in the Middle East and internationally. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment in a message to Islamic and Arab countries on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the ministry's website said. "By solving the artificial crisis about its nuclear program diplomatically, a new opportunity for regional and international cooperation has emerged," Zarif said. Zarif would travel to Gulf countries at some point after the Eid holiday, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told state news agency IRNA late on Thursday. She said Iran was seriously determined to further expand ties with regional states and its neighbors, some of which include Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states who accuse Shi'ite power Tehran of interfering in the Arab world. Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East. The country's pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani is seeking to end Iran's long international isolation by settling its nuclear dispute and bringing about a lifting of sanctions. In a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday evening, Rouhani said he would like to have bilateral relations based on mutual respect. Rouhani said the two sides also discussed the reopening of their embassies, the official IRNA news agency reported. Britain closed its embassy in Tehran after hundreds of Iranian demonstrators stormed the building in November 2011. Cameron pointed to the fight against militancy, especially the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, IRNA reported. It quoted him as saying: "We know that this is very dangerous for the entire region and this should be confronted." In London, Cameron's spokesman said Cameron told Rouhani that the nuclear deal marked a fresh start in relations and that he was committed to re-opening the British embassy in Tehran. Rouhani also had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan and underlined that importance of the Vienna agreement for Tehran-Ankara relations. Under the nuclear deal, sanctions will be gradually removed in return for Iran accepting long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear work is for civilian purposes. (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Editing by William Maclean and Janet McBride)

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