Riyadh-Tehran Security Pact to be Signed
Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz was quoted on Monday as saying he expects to visit Iran soon to sign a security pact, a fresh sign of warming ties between the regional powers following years of mistrust, according to a report by Tehran Times.
Prince Nayef was quoted in an interview by the London-based Arabic daily Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat that a date for his visit to Tehran would be set when he had finished studying the final text of the pact, to which both countries have made amendments. He did not say what the changes were, but said the agreement was aimed at fighting crime, terrorism and drug trafficking and should not be seen as a regional defense pact.
“I have not looked at the final text of the agreement after it was amended. I will start studying it today and in the light of that, the date for my visit to Tehran will be set to sign the agreement,” he said. “The agreement is now ready in its final format. It is purely a security pact. and should not be confused with any agreement of a military nature.”
The Saudi interior minister noted that coordination with Iran will take place “very soon” to agree on a date for his visit.
Iran’s interior minister Abdol-Vahed Mussavi-Lari said a week ago that the text of the agreement had been finalised by experts on both sides and would be signed during a visit by the Saudi minister.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who visited Saudi Arabia in May, has worked to improve Tehran's relations with Riyadh since his 1997 election, according to AFP.
Saudi King Fahd has since officially invited Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to visit the kingdom for a pilgrimage to Islamic holy sites, the first such invitation since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The two Gulf nations broke off relations for four years after more than 400 people were killed in 1987 clashes between Saudi security forces and Iranian pilgrims in Mecca demonstrating against Israel and the United States.
Gulf countries have urged Iran to accept internatinal arbitration in its dispute with the UAE over islands in the Arabian Gulf.
In another sign of improved relations beween Iran and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabian Airlines officially inaugurated its Tehran office on Monday, according to Tehran Daily.
Head of the airline’s beauro in Tehran, Fahad Tarki told the opening ceromony that special services will be given to Iranian pilgrims – Several Sources.
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