Russian FM, Backing Iraqi Role in Security, Meets Fahd at End of Middle East Tour

Published November 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who has called for new security arrangements for the Gulf including Iraq, met Saudi King Fahd at the end of a Middle East tour, the official news agency SPA reported Monday. 

It said they met late Sunday in Riyadh, without giving details. 

Ivanov met the king the same day as US Defense Secretary William Cohen, whose country has played the role of security guarantor for the region's oil-rich Arab monarchies since the 1991 Gulf War triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. 

Saudi Arabia does not support an immediate lifting of UN sanctions against Iraq, as proposed by Russia, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz told reporters after meeting Cohen. 

And a Russian proposal to bring Iraq and Iran into the Gulf Cooperation Council alongside the region's six monarchies was also "not practical", he said, insisting on Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions, notably on disarmament. 

"And if we are certain it is doing so, then Iraq will become again a friend and brother," said Prince Sultan. 

In Kuwait City earlier on Sunday, Ivanov said he held talks with the emirate's leadership on a new "regional security system" that would bring together Iraq and its Gulf neighbors. 

"It includes a series of steps, starting with full respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and renouncing the use of force," the Russian foreign minister said. 

"The system must take into consideration the interests of all countries in the region and for this reason it is important to hold consultations with all sides. We have detailed our proposals to the Kuwaiti leadership," said Ivanov. 

The system would be guaranteed by the international community, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, he said. 

The Russian foreign minister proposed to Kuwait that for Iraq to play an active role in the system, it must be reinstated in the world community, according to a diplomatic source. 

Cohen said the Russian official had also apparently encouraged Kuwait to halt its support for the enforcement of "no-fly" zones over Iraq. 

An exclusion zone over southern Iraq is enforced by US and British warplanes which use bases in both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as aircraft carriers in Gulf waters. 

"Ivanov got a cool response from the Kuwaiti authorities," according to a US official travelling with Cohen. 

Prince Sultan defended the zones, the second of which over northern Iraq is patrolled from a Turkish air base. "The present no-fly zones only serve peace, and it is not a Saudi decision," he said -- RIYADH (AFP)  

 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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