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Iran Moots Gulf Defence Alliance

Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Dubai (AFP) March 30, 2007
Increasingly embattled Iran has proposed a joint defence alliance with Gulf Arab states, its foreign minister said in remarks published by Arab papers on Friday.

Manouchehr Mottaki told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat he had discussed the idea with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, during an Arab League summit in Riyadh that ended on Thursday.

"I met Prince Saud al-Faisal and our discussions touched on several matters, including that of security cooperation and an Iranian-Arab defence alliance between Tehran and states of the Persian Gulf," he said.

"We are already linked to some of these states by bilateral security cooperation accords. Now, we want to give them a collective dimension," Mottaki was quoted as saying.

He did not say how Faisal reacted to the suggestion.

According to the proposal, "the alliance begins with Iran and Gulf nations, before being broadened later to other Arab countries," Mottaki was quoted as saying by the Saudi-owned London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Iran is under rising international pressure over its nuclear programme as well as the March 23 capture of 15 British navy personnel for allegedly entering its waters.

Britain insists the 15 were in Iraqi waters on routine anti-smuggling operations when they were seized.

Commenting on what has developed into a major diplomatic crisis, Mottaki told Asharq Al-Awsat that a "British acknowledgment of the error would help find a solution to the affair."

Politicising the matter only serves to "complicate it further," he added.

Washington has refused to exclude a military strike on Iran which it says wants to develop nuclear weapons, an accusation strenuously denied by Tehran.

Gulf nations have expressed their concern over the potentially catastrophic environmental impact a military strike on Iranian nuclear installations would have for the region.

In his remarks to Asharq al-Awsat, Mottaki reiterated that Iran considers its nuclear programme to be a "legitimate activity" and that it would be continued.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Iran Warns UK Over Politicising Crisis As Splits Emerge In Tehran
Tehran (AFP) March 31, 2007
Iran on Saturday again warned Britain against politicising the seizure of its 15 navy personnel, saying that could complicate efforts to resolve the escalating crisis.

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