03/04/2009, 00.00
EGYPT - SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi minister calls for joint strategy to confront "Iranian challenge"

Iran's nuclear program is a threat for the entire Middle East. The concerns of the Arab League over the possible openness of the U.S. government to talks with Tehran. Secretary Clinton reassures Arab partners and promises in-depth consultations.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A joint strategy on the part of Arab countries to confront the "Iranian challenge," and a nuclear program that threatens the entire area of the Gulf. Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, made the request yesterday in Cairo, during a summit that gathered the heads of diplomacy in the Arab League.

"In order to cement Arab reconciliation," the Saudi minister said, "we need a common vision for issues that concern Arab security and deal with the Iranian challenge," including its "nuclear drive."

Tehran's nuclear program is at the origin of the tension between the Arab countries of the Gulf - with Sunni majorities - and Shiite Iran. During a UN summit in 2008, the Saudi prince urged Iran to adhere to the guidelines of the international community, and spare the Middle East from "devastating conflicts, futile arms races and serious environmental hazards."

The Arab League is also expressing concern about the possible "openness" of the American government to direct talks with Iran. On the sidelines of the donor summit for the reconstruction of Palestine, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton reassured Arab ministers: Washington is "carefully" considering the steps to take, and will "fully" consult with allies in the Gulf on questions concerning Iran.

Clinton's reassurance follows a warning issued by Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, who asked that Arab countries be kept informed. "I demand that no foreign (power) talks to Iran without Arabs being aware of it and having a role in the process."

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