Kerry tells Iran to join efforts for peace in Yemen, Syria

Washington, April 8 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Iran to stop its destabilising behaviour and work with its neighbours in the Middle East to end the wars in Yemen and Syria.

Kerry, who is on a visit to Bahrain to meet foreign ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council, on Thursday said the US was concerned about Iran.

Last week, the US Navy seized hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers and machine guns from a small ship. Kerry said the weapons were on the move from Iran to arm Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Washington Post reported.

“Rather than send weapons to the Houthis, join in efforts to convince them to make peace,” Kerry said.

The US officials were concerned about fragility of the existing cease-fire in Syria and have expressed uncertainty over the prospects for a cease-fire that is due to start this weekend in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Gulf countries conducting airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthis.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, whose country chairs the GCC, said relations with Iran will be chilly till the country ends its interventionist policies.

“We stressed that if Iran wants to have normal relations with the GCC states, it has to change its policies and abide by the good-neighbourhood principle,” he said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made overtures for warmer relations, efforts that powerful segments of the Iranian government do not support.

“Tehran wants interaction with the world, with its neighbouring countries,” Rouhani said on Thursday.

The criticism of Iran emanating from the Gulf came as ships in the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, joined in a three-week, multinational exercise to practice mine clearing and other tactics designed to keep open the sea lanes through which at least a third of the world’s oil resources are shipped.

At least four ships thought to be bound from Iran to Yemen have been stopped in the past six months, and large quantities of weapons seized.

“If Iran is going to give meaning to the words in the last few days about wanting to work with people, it is by getting engaged in making peace in Yemen, not adding more weapons and fuelling the conflict,” Kerry said.

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