June 26, 2017 / 12:26 PM / 2 months ago

Iran urges Europe to help promote dialogue in Gulf

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a news conference after a meeting with his counterparts Walid al-Muallem of Syria and Sergei Lavrov of Russia in Moscow, Russia, April 14, 2017.Sergei Karpukhin/Files

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Monday for Europe to use its influence to defuse tensions in the Gulf where Saudi Arabia and its allies have cut ties with Qatar.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has voiced support for Qatar in its confrontation with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain who accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants, an allegation Qatar denies.

Mainly Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudia Arabia have long been at loggerheads over religion and political influence across the Middle East.

In a speech in the German capital, Zarif said the countries who blamed Iran or Qatar for terrorism were trying to avoid taking responsibility for their own failures in addressing the demands of their own people.

"One day it's Iran, today it's Qatar," he said. "It's an attempt to evade responsibility, escape accountability for this very fundamental ... failure of the state system to address, to respond to the demands of its populus."

Zarif argued for a new regional dialogue forum for the Gulf countries and called for an end to the armaments spiral in the region, which he said influenced some Western countries' relations with states in the region.

"When foreign policy becomes a commodity, then purchasing military equipment becomes your yardstick for measuring who is a terrorist or who isn't a terrorist," he said.

"This reinforces a cognitive disorder in our region that security can be purchased from outside, that security can be purchased by trying to buy more military equipment," he added. "What is needed in our region is a regional dialogue forum."

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Madeline Chambers and Thomas Escritt Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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