16 February 2010
Saudi Arabia has played down suggestions it could encourage China not to block new international sanctions against Iran by giving Beijing oil supply guarantees. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said after talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Beijing needed no prodding from Riyadh over how to deal with Iran in the UN Security Council. The Chinese "carry their responsibility" as one of the major world powers and "they need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do," the minister said at a joint news conference with Clinton in the Saudi capital.
Sanctions were “a long-term solution”, Prince Saud said, adding: “We see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat. If we want security for the region, it requires an Iran at peace and happy with themselves.”
Clinton said that more and more aspects of Iranian society were “being controlled not by the clerical leadership, not by the political leadership," but by the Revolutionary Guard. She warned earlier that Iran was turning into a "military dictatorship" bent on building a nuclear bomb. Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rejected the charge, saying: "They [the Americans] themselves are involved in a sort of military dictatorship and have practically ignored the realities and the truths in the region. America has a wrong attitude toward the issues in the Middle East and it is the continuation of their past wrong policies.”
Clinton held more than four hours of private talks with Saudi King Abdullah at his desert camp northeast of Riyadh, aiming to shore up support for new UN sanctions against Iran.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Moscow to press Russia for support on Iran sanctions, but Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly appeared non-committal. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held talks with Iranian officials in Tehran aimed at resolving the deadlock. On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that several months of efforts by Ankara to broker a compromise had yet to produce results.
On Monday, the head of Tehran’s nuclear program, Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, said that last week his government had received a new proposal from the United States, Russia and France for the enrichment of Iran’s uranium stockpile outside the country. A US official denied that a new proposal had been made, saying the only offer which remained on the table was the plan brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency in October 2009. Russia's Foreign Ministry also denied the existence of a new proposal, according to the ‘Interfax’ news agency.
In Israel, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, warned of unexpected consequences of an eventual Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
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