Sunday Telegraph: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for his first official meeting with King Abdullah, in an attempt to alleviate growing Saudi fears over Teheran’s nuclear ambitions. The Sunday Telegraph
By Michael Hirst in Beirut, Sunday Telegraph
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for his first official meeting with King Abdullah, in an attempt to alleviate growing Saudi fears over Teheran’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranian president smiled as he was greeted by the Saudi monarch and other officials at a red-carpet airport ceremony in Riyadh at the start of a 24-hour visit to the Arab state most closely allied to America.
The king was expected to seek Iran’s support in easing sectarian tensions in Iraq, and to add his voice to the international clamour for Teheran to comply with United Nations resolutions and cease its uranium enrichment programme.
“In the meeting with King Abdullah, we will discuss those issues that should be carried out jointly in the Islamic world and also the region,” Mr Ahmadinejad declared shortly beforehand.
Their meeting comes ahead of a scheduled Baghdad conference next weekend – the first high-level diplomatic discussions between Iran and the United States – on Iraq’s continuing sectarian fighting.
The US severed all diplomatic relations with Iran following the 1980 seizure of its embassy in Teheran by Islamist students, since when official communications between the two nations have essentially been limited to mutual recriminations.
Saudi-Iranian relations have, meanwhile, been soured by the crisis in Iraq, where Saudi Arabia suspects Teheran’s Shia regime has been backing sectarian killings of Sunni Muslims.
Saudi Arabia shares the misgivings of the US over Iran’s nuclear programme, which appears to be aimed at developing weapons. Teheran says its programme is solely intended for generating electricity.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are this weekend working on a resolution to impose new sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. Iran’s intransigence has raised the prospect of a pre-emptive American or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.