08/29/2008, 00.00
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Tehran considers Gulf Cooperation Council invitation, but no one claims to have issued one

Bewilderment over the statement from Iran's foreign minister, that his country is considering whether Ahmadinejad will attend the upcoming meeting of the GCC. But Arab diplomatic sources say they know nothing about an invitation, and are not concealing their opposition to the idea.

Mascate (AsiaNews) - It could be a trial balloon, or a political attempt to manipulate the Arab countries of the Gulf. But it is certainly strange, the announcement made by the Iranian foreign minister that his country's government is considering an invitation to take part in the upcoming meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. By all appearances, in fact, no one has invited Tehran.

This is the conclusion following a survey conducted by the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, on the basis of a statement made by Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Mottak, according to whom Tehran will soon give an answer on whether it will attend the meeting of the GCC, scheduled for February in Oman. Since Iran is not part of the council - which includes the six Arab countries of the Gulf, meaning Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Kuwait - its participation is possible by invitation only.

At the moment, relations between Tehran and the council are not at their best, following the controversy raised by a statement from the council's secretary general, Abdul-Rahman al-Atiyah, who said that Iran's occupation of three islands in the Emirates is similar to Israel's presence in the occupied territories.

In this context, diplomatic sources in Kuwait have told Asharq Al-Awsat that the country "was not consulted or expressed an opinion on this question" of a possible invitation extended to Ahmadinejad. The same sources also noted that, formally, invitations must be issued by the sultanate of Oman, because it is hosting the meeting.

In recent days, in effect, there was an Oman-Iran military committee meeting in Mascate, but this would not seem to be the occasion to invite a head of state.

Diplomatic sources cited by the newspaper tend to exclude, in any case, an invitation to Ahmadinajad, in part through the affirmation that this would be taken into consideration only if someone were to present the question officially, and that an informal request would be rejected.

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