Iran aims to open 'new chapter' with Gulf
Tehran, December 3, 2007
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, travelling to Qatar to become the first Iranian president to attend a summit of Gulf Arab rulers, said on Monday he would present "new proposals" to boost cooperation and security in the region.
Ahmadinejad has been invited to attend the December 3-4 meeting of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states, which have long been wary of their larger neighbour.
GCC members Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar share Western concerns about Iran's nuclear programme and some have maritime border disputes with the Islamic Republic.
Iranian officials said this was the first time an Iranian president had been invited to a GCC summit.
"Naturally I will present new proposals to expand cooperation and ensure regional security and I hope they will be considered by our brothers," Ahmadinejad told reporters before leaving Tehran for the summit venue in Doha, Qatar.
Iran regularly calls for a security cooperation pact with Gulf Arab states as the best way of securing the region and ridding it of US forces, a plan Gulf Arabs have ignored.
The United Arab Emirates has a long-running row with Iran over the sovereignty of three islands in the Gulf. Kuwait is also trying to resolve a maritime border dispute with the Islamic Republic blocking the development of a gas field.
Ahmadinejad, who regularly rails against the United States, also said of his trip to Qatar: "It seems a new chapter has been opened in the relations between the Persian Gulf States."
"Iran's definite policy is to promote broad cooperation with all countries particularly friendly neighbouring countries." The United States, which is leading efforts to isolate Iran, accuses Tehran of seeking to build nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
Washington says it is committed to diplomacy to resolve the stand-off but has not ruled out military action if that were to fail. - Reuters