Mideast foes among attendees at France-backed conference in Jordan
Islamnews – Middle East adversaries Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the countries attending a conference in Jordan on Tuesday organized by France and Iraq which aims to provide a forum for discussing the region’s problems.
French President Emmanuel Macron is attending the conference as a follow up to a previous gathering convened in Baghdad in August 2021 that was aimed at showing support for Iraq.
“The idea is to see the path we can take to try to bring the sides’ perspectives closer,” said a French presidency official, referring to regional countries. “The idea of the Baghdad format is really to gather the main regional actors to exchange views and see how to move forward politically.”
The attendees included the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran, regional rivals that severed ties in 2016, but there has been no word on whether they will meet bilaterally.
Iraq has hosted five meetings between Saudi and Iranian officials since last year, the last of which was in April, but these contacts have not yielded any breakthroughs in relations.
.Tehran and Riyadh, the leading Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, have backed opposite sides in proxy wars across the region, from Yemen to Syria and elsewhere.
Analysts see the conference as part of Macron’s efforts to keep a presence in the Middle East, where some of the United States’ long-standing allies, notably Saudi Arabia, have been frustrated by what they see as Washington’s gradual disengagement.
The heads of state attending included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Jordan’s King Abdullah, in addition to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah.
Ahead of the conference, Iran’s foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator met with the EU foreign policy chief and the EU official coordinating nuclear talks with Iran in Jordan on Tuesday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.
IRNA gave no further details about the meeting.
Talks to restore Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord have been at a stalemate since September. Western powers accuse the Islamic Republic of raising unreasonable demands after all sides appeared to be nearing a deal.