Iran General NewsGates meets Saudi king, Iran on the agenda

Gates meets Saudi king, Iran on the agenda

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Reuters: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Wednesday in Riyadh which he said he hoped would include issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme. RIYADH (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Wednesday in Riyadh which he said he hoped would include issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme.

Asked before he arrived in the U.S.-allied kingdom if Washington needed Saudi cooperation on Iran, he said: “We can always use Saudi cooperation in dealing with issues in the Gulf region.”

“I’ll be interested in hearing the king’s views on these issues and how the king sees the situation in the region,” Gates told reporters.

“This is what I’m especially interested in at this point.”

Washington accuses Iran of trying to set up a covert nuclear arms programme and of involvement in Iraq where U.S. forces have detained Iranian officials in several raids in recent weeks.

Gates visits shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who held talks with Saudi leaders earlier this week on Washington’s new strategy in Iraq to increase troops in an effort to bring stability.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said in a news conference on Tuesday that the kingdom and other U.S.-allied Arab countries supported the plan, but expressed concern about the Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi government’s ability to deliver.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, a bastion of Sunni Islam, accuse Shi’ite power Iran of interfering in Iraq and fomenting violence there through support for Shi’ite groups.

Saudi Arabia fears any early departure of U.S. troops from Iraq could leave minority Sunnis at the mercy of Shi’ite militias and solidifying Shi’ite power there, analysts say.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, says Baghdad must do more to reign in Shi’ite militias and end the marginalisation of Sunnis.

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