Clinton leaves for Gulf tour as Iran talks approach

Five-day trip to see Clinton push for backing on sanctions to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions
Clinton leaves for Gulf tour as Iran talks approach
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will undertake a five-day tour of the Gulf, her second in as many months
By Joanne Bladd
Sun 09 Jan 2011 11:53 AM

US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left for a tour of Gulf allies in a bid
to shore up support against Iran as fears over the country’s nuclear programme
grow.

In
a five-day trip to the UAE, Qatar and Oman, Clinton will hold talks with
leaders to discuss how to make progress in new multilateral nuclear talks to be
held in Turkey at the end of the month, the State Department said in a statement.

Iraq’s
new government and the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process will also be
on the agenda as Clinton visits Abu Dhabi on Monday, neighbouring Dubai on
Tuesday, Muscat on Wednesday, and Doha on Wednesday and Thursday.

It
is Clinton’s second trip to the Gulf in as many months, following a visit to Bahrain
in early December for a security conference.

In
an apparent bid to curb new sanctions against it, Iran last week invited the
European Union, Russia and other world powers – barring the US – to tour its
nuclear sites on January 15.  

The
tour would preempt a new round of international talks involving Britain, France,
Germany, China and Russia in Istanbul on January 21 and 22, where the US is
expected to press for tougher sanctions to force Iran back to the negotiating
table.  

The
UN Security Council in June imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran in a
bid to curb its uranium enrichment programme, following pressure from the US.

The
sanctions have impacted trade with Gulf states such as the UAE, Qatar and Oman that have close
business ties with the Islamic Republic.   

Clinton
is also expected to raise issues of cultural and social reform during her tour,
and is scheduled to meet activists involved in issues such as domestic violence
and child marriage.

In Qatar, she will attend the Seventh Forum for the Future;
an event aimed at promoting economic
opportunity and good governance in the broader Middle East and North Africa.

 

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