Saudi Arabia: No Defense Accord with Iran
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz on Wednesday ruled out signing any kind of defense agreement with Iran.
"Any direct cooperation with Iran to guarantee the protection of the Gulf is quite inadmissible," Prince Sultan told journalists after inaugurating in Riyadh a Franco-Saudi symposium on satellite technology.
But he added, "We cannot abandon Iran, this great neighboring Muslim country," just one day after meeting his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani, currently in the kingdom on a visit to examine Saudi-Iranian cooperation in security and defense.
In reaction to Iraqi charges that Riyadh and Tehran were forging a strategic alliance, Prince Sultan ruled out any new "regional axis" while saying Iraq was not raised in his talks with Shamkhani.
Rear-Admiral Shamkhani, who was accompanied by a high-level military delegation, said on departure from Tehran to Riyadh that the aim was "to create a climate of confidence with Saudi Arabia, which will benefit the whole of the region".
Last week the Saudi government, ahead of Shamkhani's three-day visit, tasked Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz with negotiating a bilateral security accord with Iran.
The accord will focus on the fight against drug trafficking, Prince Nayef said in Saudi newspapers on Monday, while diplomatic sources in Riyadh said it was to be signed when the interior minister visits Tehran in May -- RIYADH (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)