Iran’s newly appointed Deputy Foreign Minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, paid an official visit to Qatar on Monday. This came as his first foreign trip since he took office under the Raisi administration last month. During his visit to Doha, Bagheri came together with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
The two top diplomats discussed the latest regional developments as well as matters of mutual concern, according to the Qatari media. While no further details have been provided regarding the Iranian diplomat’s visit, Iranian media reported that a delegation comprised of high-level politicians accompanied Bagheri.
Bagheri was also appointed as new head of Iran’s negotiation team in Vienna talks. He replaced his predecessor Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi. On the other hand, Araghchi was entrusted with the task of adviser to Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian under the new Raisi administration.
Bagheri’s appointment as chief negotiator came despite Araghchi conducting all six rounds of nuclear talks in Vienna and remained on the post since 2013. Bagheri is also known due to his harsh criticisms regarding the 2015 nuclear deal, officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), at the time when the deal became valid.
Meanwhile, Qatar is in favor of resuming the Vienna talks to revive the 2015 nuclear accords. Speaking at an interview with the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Qatari Foreign Minister said, “We want a quiet region. We hold consultations with Iran and keep our channels open with Tehran. We do not want to see a nuclear race in the region.”
Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian admitted that Tehran had demanded Washington to unfreeze $10 billion of its funds in exchange for reinstalling the stalled nuclear negotiations.
Speaking to state television on Saturday, he said, “The Americans tried to contact us through different channels in New York, and I told the mediators if America’s intentions are serious then a serious indication was needed… by releasing at least $10 billion of blocked money.”
The Iranian FM’s remark was met with reaction by Germany. Germany’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said, “If new conditions are being set by Iran for talks to be resumed, then we reject that.”
Previously, the top Iranian diplomat expressed that Tehran would return to the nuclear negotiations as soon as possible when the review of recordings of previous rounds finalizes. Yet, he did not specify any date.