RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – In the midst of global efforts to resurrect a nuclear accord with Tehran, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said a Gulf Arab summit on Tuesday that Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes should be addressed “seriously and efficiently.”

Before a secret session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also stated that Riyadh, which has begun direct discussions with Iran, supports conflict resolution via dialogue.

The meeting comes about a year after Riyadh ended a three-and-a-half-year Arab blockade of GCC member Qatar, which had fragmented the US-allied organisation, and at a time when economic rivalry within the oil-producing bloc is heating up.

GCC Secretary General Nayef al-Hajraf read the closing comments, emphasising the need of Gulf states working together to counter challenges and avoid regional and international crises.

“Member nations of the (GCC) regard any assault on one of them to be an attack on all of them, and any risk that threatens one of them to be a danger to all of them,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and non-Gulf Egypt have restored diplomatic relations with Qatar, while the UAE and Bahrain have yet to do so, despite Abu Dhabi’s efforts.

Qatar was accused by the four boycotting countries of backing Islamist extremists and interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab neighbours, claims Doha rejected.

Last week, UAE official Anwar Gargash stated, “There are some sectors that will take some time, but… real, functional (Gulf) collaboration is back on track.”

Prince Mohammed had been on a tour of Gulf states ahead of the conference, stressing cooperation as world powers strive to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran, despite growing Gulf scepticism about the US role in the area.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim country, and Iran, a Shiite country, are competing for dominance in the area, as seen by events such as the war in Yemen and the rise of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has strained Beirut’s Gulf connections.

Concerned about Iran’s nuclear aspirations, missile programme, and regional proxies, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are talking with Tehran to defuse tensions.

Iran’s new hardline president has stated that strengthening ties with Gulf neighbours is his top foreign policy objective https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/irans-raisi-says-foreign-policy-wont-be-limited-by-nuclear-deal-2021-06-21.

Iran should “provide indicators of good will,” Hajraf said ahead of the conference on Saudi television.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shifted their foreign policies away from aggressive views that saw them intervene in Yemen and lead the boycott of Qatar to a more conciliatory stance as they compete for foreign investment and to win over US President Joe Biden.

Abu Dhabi has moved faster to improve ties with Iran and Turkey while also re-engaging with Syria after forging relations with Israel last year.

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