U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced plans to travel to Qatar early next month to discuss the Iran nuclear agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group that has expressed concerns about Iran’s influence in the region.
Kerry said Friday that he would travel to Doha to meet with the group, which consists of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The top U.S. diplomat also said he would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the visit to discuss combating Islamic State militants in Syria.
Kerry announced the plans during an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Kerry said that while in Qatar, he would “lay out the next progression” of a plan that includes a focus on counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and the training of special forces.
"We will now have the ability to unify the Gulf world” on repsonses to Iran's objectionable actions in the region, he said.
Earlier this month, the United States and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the so-called P5 +1, reached a deal with Iran that calls for Tehran to curb enrichment activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
'Not based on trust'
Some Gulf powers, however, have expressed concerns that a sanction-free Iran could broaden its influence in the region in a way that would be destabilizing and increase its support to militant groups such as Hezbollah.
The nuclear agreement is “not based on trust,” said Kerry.
“We are not naive,” he said. “We know what Iran is doing in the region — Yemen, Iraq Shia militia, Hezbollah.”
Kerry also said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would hold talks with Gulf officials in the United Arab Emirates.
On Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom would welcome “any agreement that ensures Iran’s inability to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
He also voiced support for provisions to reapply sanctions in case of Iranian violations.
On Thursday, Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, faced pointed skepticism from Republicans and some Democrats about the Iran nuclear deal during their first public hearing since the agreement was reached.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee questioned whether negotiators had been “fleeced” by Iran.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican presidential hopeful, warned that future U.S. administrations would not be bound by the terms of the agreement.