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Tehran, Riyadh unleash potential of regional convergence

By Hassan Hanizadeh, Tehran Times Opinion Column

TEHRAN, March 4 (Mehr News Agency) -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's visit to Saudi Arabia and his high-profile talks with King Abdullah on Saturday herald a new horizon of convergence for the two influential Islamic countries.

Iran and Saudi Arabia share many affinities that can be used to help resolve regional issues, especially the crises in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.

The regional problems, the complexity of the situation in the Middle East, and the interference of extra-regional countries have made it necessary for Tehran and Riyadh to hold consultations to find a way out of these crises.

Factional confrontations and disputes between political groups in Lebanon, increasing insecurity in Iraq, and the establishment of a national unity government in Palestine necessitate well-intentioned consultation between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore tranquility to the region.

Although the two countries have differing views in their foreign policies, they should use their potential to prevent foreign powers from creating new crises in the region.

Due to its positive influence in the Islamic world, Iran has a respected place among regional nations and this can be used to help settle regional crises.

Likewise, Saudi Arabia has an especially respected place among Arab countries.

A new chapter of cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia can be opened if the two countries realize the potential of combining the high status each enjoys in the Islamic world.

The regrettable incidents which have happened over the past several years in the Middle East region show that the extra-regional powers do not have the capability to devise a proper solution to establish security. Therefore, Muslims nations are looking to regional Islamic countries to come up with good solutions.

Needless to say, foreign powers do not want influential Islamic countries to formulate a rational solution to the crises without taking their illegitimate interests into consideration.

Thus, the extra-regional powers are doing everything they can to create division between Iran and other Islamic countries, especially Arab states. They are also seeking to divide regional countries into "moderate" and "hard-line" blocs.

Iran has been the target of neocolonialist countries' most recent propaganda campaign because it has always promoted convergence among regional countries based on its Islamic revolutionary ideals.

The West has been exploiting Tehran's nuclear row to stir up fear among regional countries and, regrettably, some countries have been fooled by the propaganda campaign against Iran and have neglected the importance of nuclear technology for Muslims' future.

Iran will definitely share its nuclear achievements with other Islamic countries with no strings attached, which is something Western countries and Israel would be loathe to see.

Hence, Ahmadinejad's visit to Saudi Arabia at this critical juncture can clear up many ambiguities that the foreign powers have created and can give a boost to efforts to establish comprehensive regional convergence.

Undoubtedly, the results of this visit will soon become evident and will prove that regional states have a great potential to resolve crises.

This potential must be utilized to uproot the crises in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine since any proposed solution that does not optimally guarantee Muslim nations' interests is doomed to failure.

... Payvand News - 3/5/07 ... --

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