Ahmadinejad hails 'new chapter' in Gulf ties

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday hailed a "new chapter" in ties with Arabian peninsula states as he left Tehran.

Ahmadinejad hails 'new chapter' in Gulf ties
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday hailed a "new chapter" in ties with Arabian peninsula states as he left Tehran to become the first foreign leader to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council summit.

"It seems that a new chapter of cooperation has been opened in the Persian Gulf," Ahmadinejad told reporters before departing Tehran airport to attend the GCC summit in Doha.

The president said he would be submitting proposals "for the expansion of cooperation and the guarantee of security in the region", without giving further details.

"I have been invited by the Qatari Emir (Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani). Of course I will participate in a part of this summit," he said, adding that he would also hold bilateral meetings with the participants.

The summit opening later Monday is to be attended by the GCC heads of state from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first time an Iranian leader has been invited as a guest.

Iran has on occasion had rocky ties with GCC member states, most notably in the 1980s when regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia backed Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran.

But Iran has been seeking to improve ties as it faces increasing international isolation over its nuclear programme, and senior officials have made regular trips to neighbouring countries.

The GCC monarchies, while staunch US allies, are increasingly worried that the standoff between the West and Iran over Tehran's uranium enrichment programme could escalate into a military conflict in their region.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Aralık 2007, 11:46
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