Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh; photo courtesy of AP.com
(Riyadh) The leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia met over the weekend, vowing to reign in the sectarian violence that is percolating throughout the region.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah also reiterated the importance of "maintaining Palestinian unity" and bringing security to war-torn Iraq, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The Iranian state news agancy, IRNA, said that Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah discussed "developments in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran's nuclear dossier."
The Iranian media network IRIB quotes King Abdullah as saying that the two nations "must confront enemies with wisdom and thought and not allow their divisive goals to be materialized." These "enemies" were not identified in either Iranian nor Saudi press releases.
Both governments are keeping details of the meeting somewhat close to the vest. It is interesting to note, however, that Ahmadinejad did not stay the night in Riyadh, hopping back on a plane for Tehran the same day he arrived. One might see this as a sign that talks failed to achieve any mutual goals, although the fact that Ahmadinejad appears to be reaching out to the Saudis likely means he is trying to build support with other Gulf states.
The prospect of a US-led military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in late 2007 or early 2008 continues to loom. By reducing tensions with other regional players, Ahmadinejad may be attempting to further isolate American war hawks.
Diplomats from the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany continued negotiations this weekend for possible new sanctions against Iran. Representatives failed to enact a UN sanctions resolution against Iran for its nuclear program, but kept open the door for future sanctions.
“There is still some work to be done on a few outstanding issues, but all parties remain committed to a second resolution in the near future,” said US State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.
The President continues to publicly push diplomacy with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, but the war hawks still have a potent voice in Vice-President Dick Cheney. At this point it is difficult to gauge whether the diplomatic efforts are being made in good faith, or whether these are simply smoke screens for future attacks on Iran.