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EghtesadOnline: At the 15th edition of Manama Dialogue on Saturday, Persian Gulf Arab countries exchanged views about how to address differences with Tehran and deescalate regional tensions.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said that Manama is open to work with Iranian leaders and does not advocate a regime change.

"We look forward to working with the Islamic Republic on better terms," he said, stressing that it is also important for Tehran to work with its neighbors.

Bahrain cut all diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016, citing the latter's alleged interference in its domestic affairs, according to Financial Tribune.

Al Khalifa said the way forward is a better deal with Iran in place of its 2015 nuclear accord with the world powers. 

Formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal placed curbs on Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions. 

US President Donald Trump, however, withdrew from it last year, arguing that a more comprehensive deal was needed to cover all areas of western concern, including Iran's missile program and regional activity. 

Echoing Trump's view, Al Khalifa said the new deal should "stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and stop its missile programs and halt its regional hegemony".  

Tehran says its nuclear program has no military aspects and is only for civilian purposes. It also says its presence in some regional states is at the request of their governments to help address security issues.  

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who also spoke at the event, stressed the need to "resolve the Iranian ballistic missile [issue] through joint regional diplomatic efforts", the Egyptian newspaper Youm7 reported. 

He had earlier said in a speech in Abu Dhabi that Iran needs to engage in international talks over a new deal that would deescalate regional tensions and revive its economy. 

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Jubeir also said during the Manama conference that the kingdom is not against dialogue with Tehran, although the two countries' relations have been strained for a few years. 

Riyadh blames Iran for the Sept. 14 drone attacks on its Aramco oil facilities and Jubeir called for deterrence to prevent the repetition of such attacks, the National reported.  

Tehran denies being behind the assault that has been claimed by the Yemeni Houthi fighters. 

Iran has declared that it is open to dialogue with other countries, but has stressed that its missile program is non-negotiable because it is solely defensive in nature.


French Assault on US Mideast Policy  

French Defense Minister Florence Parly took aim at “the gradual US disengagement” in the Middle East and said its failure to respond to “provocations” blamed on Iran set off a dangerous chain of events, AFP reported. 

Since May, tensions in the Persian Gulf have increased with attacks against tankers and a US drone being downed besides the strikes on Saudi oil facilities.

Iran took responsibility of the US drone attack, saying it violated Iranian airspace, but denies involvement in any other incident in the region.

Despite the attacks on its Saudi ally and having one of its own drones shot down, the United States has avoided retaliation.

An arch-foe of the US, Iran maintains that the American presence in the region brings all but security, calling for cooperation among Persian Gulf countries to ensure stability without foreign intervention. 

The Manama Dialogue is held in Bahrain annually and sees global heads of state and high-ranking ministers discuss defense and political issues related to the Middle East.


Iran Tehran Persian Gulf Regional Tensions Arab countries Differences Manama Dialogue Focused Differences With Tehran