CAIRO, Egypt - Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday
that he sent a message to Saudi King Abdullah proposing that they cooperate in
helping stabilize Iraq.
Ahmadinejad's comments came as
Washington is trying to rally its Arab allies and isolate Iran.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) and his Iranian
counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meet at Miraflores Palace in Caracas
January 13, 2007. [Reuters]
"We, Saudis and other neighboring countries can help the Iraqi people to take
the lead to consolidate their government's capability to stabilize and maintain
security in their country," Ahmadinejad told the Saudi-owned satellite
"I sent a message to King Abdullah in this regard and the answer, generally,
was positive," the Iranian president said in the interview taped Saturday in
Venezuela, one of the countries on his Latin American tour.
Iran's top national security official, Ali Larijani, had delivered a message
to Abdullah, the official Saudi Press Agency reported Sunday, but did not reveal
Iran's overture to Saudi Arabia appeared to be an attempt to counter American
efforts to rally its allies in the region and isolate Tehran.
Saudi Arabia has shown increasing alarm over Iran's growing influence in Iraq
and across the Arab world, even as it has grown more worried over Iraq's chaos.
The US has previously asked Saudi Arabia to use its close ties to Iraq's
Sunni minority to encourage reconciliation with the Shiite-led government. Saudi
Arabia has pressed the US to ensure that Shiite militias are reined in.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, ahead of her regional tour, rejected
anew proposals for opening a diplomatic dialogue with Iran and Syria as a way to
help stabilize Iraq.
She said Iran would demand US concessions on its nuclear program while
Damascus would ask for an easing of the US opposition to Syrian policies in
Lebanon as a price for cooperation.
Ahmadinejad said the Americans were in "trouble and they are seeking a way to
get out of it while ensuring their economic interests and increase their
hegemony over the region."
Addressing Iran's nuclear program, Ahmadinejad reiterated that "we are always
ready to talk, but if the dialogue is used as a means to impose something which
is illegal then they should realize that it is a dead end."
Iranian officials have said that efforts to make Iran roll back its nuclear
activities are not legal because it has the right to a peaceful nuclear program
as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.