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Middle East

Gulf states: Nuclear talks should address Iran missile programme

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A missile unveiled by Iran is launched in an unknown location in Iran in this picture received by Reuters on August 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI, June 16 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states said on Wednesday it would be dangerous to separate global powers' nuclear deal with Iran from Tehran's missile programme and "destabilising" behaviour, and reiterated a call that they be included in the dialogue.

World powers and Iran entered a sixth round of talks in Vienna on Saturday to revive the 2015 nuclear pact which Saudi Arabia and its allies opposed for not tackling their concerns, and which the United States abandoned in 2018.

Tehran has opposed any attempt to add other issues to the deal, under which it agreed to curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions. U.S. President Joe Biden wants to restore the deal abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers urged the powers to secure a deal with stronger restrictions and a longer duration, and to "link it with practical steps to build trust" in order to prevent an arms race and further conflict in the region.

In a statement following a meeting in Riyadh, they said Gulf states should be involved in global negotiations with Tehran and were ready to "cooperate and deal seriously and effectively with the Iranian nuclear file ... on the basis of respect for sovereignty and good neighbourliness".

The statement stressed "the danger of separating implications of the nuclear deal" from Iran's missiles programme and support for regional proxies, and urged Tehran to engage seriously with talks and avoid escalations.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, which severed ties in 2016, began direct talks in Iraq in April aimed at containing tensions.

They are locked in a rivalry that has played out across the region, including in Yemen where a military coalition led by Riyadh has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement for more than six years.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; writing by Raya Jalabi; editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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