First Gulf visit Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi for gas and nuclear talksAuthor: Yuvi February 21, 2022
Tuesday’s Forum of the Gas Exporting Countries will be overshadowed by Ukraine, which has driven up demand for gas as well as the price paid by consumers.
Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi arrived in Qatar on Monday on his maiden visit to the Gulf Arab state for a major gas summit that will see tensions rage over Ukraine.
Mr Raisi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a close US ally, are also expected to discuss growing efforts to revive a stalled international agreement to regulate Iran’s nuclear program.
Tuesday’s Forum of the Gas Exporting Countries will be overshadowed by rising tensions around Ukraine, which have driven up demand for gas as well as the price paid by consumers.
Producing countries say they will not be able to provide Europe with enough gas if Russia, which has been accused of preparing an attack on Ukraine, cuts supplies in any sanctions showdown.
Mr Raisi has not traveled to the Gulf region since taking office in June, and this is only his fourth foreign visit. Qatari officials had made tight security arrangements for his arrival at the Doha airport, where he met the emir.
Qatar has added the Iran nuclear dispute to its list of diplomatic hotspots where it has played a behind-the-scenes mediation role.
Earlier this month, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani made an unannounced visit to Tehran after the emir met with US President Joe Biden in Washington.
The Qatari government said the Amir and Mr Raisi would discuss issues of “common concern”, without giving details. Diplomats, however, said nuclear talks would be on the agenda.
In 2015, six world powers, including Iran and the United States, reached a landmark nuclear deal that offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for sanctions on its nuclear program.
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and imposed heavy economic sanctions.
Negotiations on reviving the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been held since late November in the Austrian capital Vienna, directly involving Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, and the United States.
Mr Raisi and the Qatari emir will be joined by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley at Tuesday’s summit. Energy ministers of the other seven members of the forum, including Russia, will also participate.
Ministers of the 11-member group were to meet later on Monday to approve a summit statement that industry analysts predicted would touch additional supply crunches that could help Europe, where consumers are already Only paying record prices for gas.
Qatar and other countries have insisted that massive investments in gas are needed, and they need the certainty of long-term contracts to be able to guarantee supplies to Europe.
The European Union has long opposed the 10-, 15- and 20-year contracts signed by other major customers for Qatar’s gas, including China, Japan and South Korea.
The United States has asked Qatar to help Europe by preparing emergency supplies in the event of the Ukraine crisis.