Reuters: Saudi Arabia told an Iranian envoy this month that Shi’ite power Iran was putting the Gulf region in danger, in a reference to Iran’s conflict with Washington over Iraq and nuclear policy, a newspaper said.
RIYADH, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia told an Iranian envoy this month that Shi’ite power Iran was putting the Gulf region in danger, in a reference to Iran’s conflict with Washington over Iraq and nuclear policy, a newspaper said.
In the interview in Kuwait’s al-Seyassah on Saturday, King Abdullah also issued a veiled warning to Iran to quit what he said were efforts to spread Shi’ism in the Sunni-dominated Arab world.
The United States and its key ally Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of “interference” in Iraq, through backing Shi’ite militias and parties, and suspect Tehran is developing a covert nuclear weapons programme — a charge Iran denies.
“Saudi leaders and the Saudi state have always known their limits in dealing with nations, east and west. I explained this to Ali Larijani and advised him to pass it on to his government and its followers, with regard to foreign dealings,” he said.
“The dangers it (Iranian government) could fall into will fall upon all of us.”
Saudi sources have said Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, visited Riyadh this month to seek help with Washington and reassure Saudi Arabia over the nuclear programme.
King Abdullah also appeared to accuse Iran of exploiting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for its own ends. “The Arabs alone should solve the issue of Palestine … We don’t want anyone to trade in our issues and become stronger through them,” he said.
Iran is backing Palestinian Sunni Islamist group Hamas, which is conflict with Western countries because it refuses to recognise Israel before entering into peace negotiations. It also backs Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, which is leading a popular campaign to bring down the Western-backed government.
Arab states have had difficulty persuading the United States to restart peace talks leading to a state for the Palestinians.
King Abdullah also said efforts to spread Shi’ism in the Arab world would fail. Leading Sunni clerics have said in recent months that Iran is promoting Shi’ite belief in Arab countries.
“We are following this issue and we are aware of the extent of Shi’ite proselytism and how far it has got,” the king said.
“But we don’t think it will achieve its goal because the huge majority of Muslims who are Sunnis would not change their faith and sect … We know our role as the state where the message (of Islam) began,” he said.