AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah discussed regional affairs by telephone on Tuesday amid tensions over Iraqi and Lebanese politics and a Gulf arms buildup, the official SPA news agency said.
RIYADH (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah discussed regional affairs by telephone on Tuesday amid tensions over Iraqi and Lebanese politics and a Gulf arms buildup, the official SPA news agency said.
The leaders of the two rival powers “discussed bilateral relations and reviewed the overall situation in the region” in the rare call, SPA said.
The conversation took place as the two sides appeared to be at odds over the formation of Iraq’s government, stalemated seven months after parliamentary elections.
Saudis fear an Iranian-backed government of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and have been supporters of former prime minister Iyad Allawi, whose political block outpaced Maliki’s in the March 7 election, but without enough seats to claim the premiership outright.
On Sunday, Allawi held talks with Abdullah on a visit to Riyadh. Details of their discussion were not revealed.
Saudis, whose predominantly Sunni Muslim country is frequently at odds with Shiite-dominated Iran, are also concerned about Tehran’s role in Lebanese and Palestinian politics.
And Saudis have become concerned about political turbulence in neighboring Bahrain, where the minority Sunni government has cracked down on Shiite activists, arresting 21 in August and accusing them of forming a “terror network.”
At the Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya last week Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal spoke of lack of cohesiveness among Arab countries that creates a “strategic vacuum” that is exploited by “neighbouring countries.”
A Saudi-US arms deal worth up to 60 billion dollars (43.4 billion euros) revealed by Washington last month also appears to be directed at Iran, with the main items including 84 advanced F-15 fighters and dozens of attack helicopters.