Saudi Arabia does not support an immediate lifting of sanctions against Irag, as suggested by Russia, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz told his US counterpart William Cohen in Riyadh late Sunday.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who left Kuwait for Riyadh Sunday, has called for a new security system in the Gulf region in which Iraq would play a role.
A Russian proposal to bring Iraq and Iran into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was "not practical" he told reporters here.
"Iraq should comply with the UN resolutions and Russia will support this... Iraq has to accept the international inspectors team," he added.
"And if we are certain it is doing so then Iraq will become again a friend and brother."
Cohen, who has been touring the Gulf and Middle East regions since Thursday has taken a similar line.
The Saudi minister also defended the air exclusion zones over northern and southern Iraq imposed by US and British planes flying from Saudi bases.
"The present no-fly zones only serve peace, and it is not a Saudi decision," he said.
Turning to the current wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the prince downplayed Arab criticism of pro-Israeli bias on the part of the Americans.
"I feel the US under President Clinton are seeking peace in the world especially in the Middle East. The question to decide who is favored or not, is of no use to anybody," he said.
For his part Cohen said: "My hope that both Israel and Palestinians can return to the bargaining table to reach a just and clear solution so that commercial relations can be reestablished throughout the Gulf and the region so that people in Israel and other people can benefit," he said
Cohen, who will leave his post in January when a new US administration is sworn in, said he was sure that his eventual successor, Republican or Democrat "will carry out the same commitment" towards securing stability and prosperity in the region.
Cohen was to return to Oman for a meeting with Sultan Qaboos on Monday before travelling on to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. He has also visited Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar since Thursday – RIYADH (AFP)
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