Persian Gulf Arabs Accept Iran Offer for Talks on Free Trade Pact

A01895662.jpgPersian Gulf Arab monarchies have agreed to an Iranian offer to launch talks on a possible free trade pact, the secretary general of their oil-rich bloc said on Saturday. Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) foreign ministers in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah discussed a letter from their Iranian counterpart “regarding Iran’s readiness to reach a free trade agreement with PGCC member states,” Abdurrahman al-Attiyah told reporters after their meeting.

Attiyah said that in light of the letter from Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki, “it was agreed to express the readiness of PGCC states to engage in negotiations to conclude an agreement to set up a free trade zone” with the Islamic republic.

He said the issue would be referred to the financial and economic cooperation committee of the PGCC, which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Attiyah’s remarks at a news conference after the ministerial meeting were aired on the Saudi news channel Al-Ikhbariya.

A statement issued after the meeting called for a peaceful resolution of Iran’s standoff with the West over its nuclear program, and urged Tehran to continue full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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