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Iran Seeks To Win Over Gulf Arabs In Nuclear Row

Iran is beginning talks with other Gulf states.
by Staff Writers
Abu Dhabi (AFP) May 03, 2006
Iran's top national security official said on Tuesday he was confident Gulf Arab states would not side with the United States in its nuclear row with Tehran and accused Washington of seeking to create trouble in the region.

Gulf Arab leaders "will not ... stand by the United States in its attempts against Iran because they are aware of the US administration's policy of double standards" in the region, Ali Larijani was quoted as saying in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi.

Larijani, whose remarks were reported by the Emirati WAM news agency, played down Iran's dispute with the UAE over three Gulf islands and said Tehran had no problems with its Arab neighbors across the Gulf.

"It is the United States which tries to sow conflict and rifts between the states of the region, and it is the one now seeking to create trouble between Shiites and Sunnis in and outside Iraq," he charged.

Larijani said Iran's neighbors had nothing to fear from the nuclear power station being built at Bushehr with Russian help.

The plant will not have any nuclear fuel before a year, and claims that it could constitute a danger to the region are being contrived by the United States, he said.

Larijani also said Iran welcomed any efforts by Gulf Arab states to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

Iran was ready for a peaceful solution, provided it upheld its "rights," Larijani said, referring to Tehran's insistence that it is entitled to pursue a civilian nuclear energy program.

Larijani discussed Iran's controversial nuclear activities with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who called for calm in the oil-rich Gulf region, according to WAM.

It said Sheikh Khalifa stressed Abu Dhabi's keenness to "achieve stability, security and just and lasting peace, and to eliminate tensions in the Middle East, chiefly the Arab Gulf region."

Larijani later met with the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum, who is also the UAE's vice president and prime minister.

The Iranian envoy stressed that Iran sought to resolve the nuclear crisis through dialogue and to cooperate with Arab neighbors to "bolster security and stability in the region away from the interests of the big powers," WAM said.

Sheikh Mohammad in turn underscored the UAE's support for the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Iran's standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions worsened when it failed to comply with a UN deadline last Friday to suspend uranium enrichment, which makes the fuel for civilian reactors but can also be the explosive core of a bomb.

While Western countries are maintaining a tough line, reflecting their fear that Iran is seeking a nuclear arsenal, Russia and China are seeking a more diplomatic approach.

The five major UN powers and Germany wrapped up talks in Paris Tuesday without a final agreement on how best to tackle Iran, but scheduled more talks.

Iran insists that its sensitive nuclear fuel work is exclusively for peaceful atomic energy purposes.

The Qatari QNA news agency meanwhile reported that Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani met on Tuesday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's foreign and defense ministers during a visit to Tehran.

QNA said the talks dealt with bilateral ties and regional developments. Officials from the two sides also signed a series of economic agreements.

Despite their strong ties with the United States, Gulf Arab states have been eager to appear neutral in Iran's nuclear row with the West and are jittery about the fallout on the oil-rich region from threatened US military action against Tehran.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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