Iran General NewsWary Gulf leaders host Iran's Ahmadinejad at summit

Wary Gulf leaders host Iran’s Ahmadinejad at summit


AFP: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a summit of Gulf Arab leaders on Monday that the issue of Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme was “closed” and that Iran was ready for any eventuality. DOHA (AFP) — Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a summit of Gulf Arab leaders on Monday that the issue of Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme was “closed” and that Iran was ready for any eventuality.

“The nuclear issue is now closed. We do not feel threatened at all and we are prepared for any eventuality or conditions,” he told reporters through an interpreter at an annual meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Qatari capital Doha.

Ahmadinejad was the first Iranian president to attend the gathering of the neighbouring bloc of wealthy oil producers, who are wary of Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

The outspoken leader also offered to sign a security pact with the GCC.

“We are proposing the conclusion of a security agreement,” Ahmadinejad told the summit’s opening session, saying that insecurity affected all countries bordering the Gulf.

The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We want peace and security… based on justice and without foreign intervention,” according to the Arabic translation of comments he made in Farsi. Ahmadinejad made no direct reference to Western fears over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.

He proposed forming an organisation to improve economic cooperation between Iran and the GCC as well as working towards a free trade agreement.

Western nations suspect Iran is using its programme of uranium enrichment to covertly develop an atomic bomb. Tehran denies the charge.

Before leaving Iran, Ahmadinejad hailed his invitation to Qatar as “a new chapter of cooperation” in the Persian Gulf, adding that he would submit proposals “for the expansion of cooperation and the guarantee of security in the region.”

The GCC monarchies, while staunch US allies, are increasingly worried that the standoff between the West and Iran could escalate into military conflict.

In an interview last month with British newspapers, Bahrain’s crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, for the first time accused the Islamic republic of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan has also expressed concern.

The GCC has already announced plans to launch its own nuclear programme, for civilian purposes only.

A proposal by the group for an internationally controlled consortium to provide Middle East countries with enriched uranium was received without enthusiasm by Iran.

The GCC nuclear programme is the subject of a feasibility study to be discussed at the summit.

Saudi King Abdullah was also in the Qatari capital five years after the kingdom boycotted the last Doha summit because of strained relations between the two states.

He entered the conference hall flanked by Ahmadinejad and Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

An AFP journalist said Ahmadinejad had a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, with which Iran has close trade ties despite a longstanding territorial dispute.

GCC leaders are due to announce the formation of a common market, but they will have to address thorny economic issues as they face mounting pressure either to end their currencies’ peg to a sliding dollar or to revalue.

Around 90 percent of public revenue in the six countries comes from oil exports, which are priced in dollars.

The Emirati foreign minister said no decision would be taken at the summit on whether to end the dollar peg, the official WAM news agency reported.

However, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz al-Assaf told AFP Riyadh refused to abandon the peg to the dollar.

The GCC will also have to decide whether to stick to a self-imposed 2010 target to launch a single currency for the region, even as inflation keeps rising.

GCC foreign and finance ministers decided to adhere to the launch date at a closed-door meeting on Sunday, in a two-track approach starting with countries which are ready to take part, a delegate told AFP.

The delegate said the decision was taken at the insistence of Saudi Arabia, although some member states, notably the UAE, had openly said the 2010 target was not possible because of technical, legislative and fiscal hurdles.

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