Riyadh and Tehran Cooperating to Ease Crises in Iraq, Lebanon

A02626684.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- US ally Saudi Arabia and Iran are working together to try to calm the crises in Iraq and Lebanon, the Saudi foreign minister said yesterday, despite Washington’s efforts to isolate Tehran and stem its power in the Middle East.Prince Saud Al Faisal said that Iran had approached his country to “cooperate in averting strife between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon”.

“Saudi Arabia wants only peace in the region,” Prince Saud said. “Contacts are ongoing between Riyadh and Tehran.”

A Saudi envoy is in Iran studying all the efforts being exerted to calm the situation and defuse the crises in Iraq and Lebanon and “exploring what Iran can contribute,” he said.

“The initiative will not succeed unless it is followed by action on the ground.” The deputy leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement visited Saudi Arabia in late December and met King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and Prince Saud. The next month, Iran’s top national security official, Ali Larijani, also met with the Saudi monarch.

At the time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he had sent a message to King Abdullah offering cooperation and that the Saudi response had been “positive”.

The Shiite Hezbollah has been waging a campaign of street protests for the past two months in an attempt to bring down the Western-backed government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Last week, the protests erupted into clashes between supporters of the two sides that raised fears in Lebanon and across the Middle East that the country could explode into a sectarian civil war between its Shiites and Sunnis.

Saudi Arabia has close ties to Sunni politicians in the government’s ruling coalition and has strongly backed Siniora.

Hezbollah has demanded the formation of a new national unity government that would give it and its allies more than a third of the Cabinet seats, enabling them to veto major decisions. Weeks of talks between the government and opposition have stalemated.

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