Iranian president and Saudi king agree to fight sectarian strife

Sunday, March 4, 2007

In his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met King Abdullah to discuss the region's growing political and sectarian conflicts, agreeing to stand against "enemy plots" that divide the Muslim world.

Both leaders have expressed concern over sectarian tensions in Iraq, fearing they could spread through the Middle East.

According to an account of Sunday's meeting in Riyadh by the Saudi Press Agency, "The two leaders asserted that the greatest danger threatening the Muslim nation at the present time is the attempt to spread strife between Sunni and Shia Muslims and that efforts should be exerted to stop such attempts and close ranks."

Iran is a large Shia power in the region and Saudi Arabia a large Sunni power. The Saudis have tried in recent months to curb the growing influence of Iran, even working to cool off tensions in Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah has faced off with the secular Lebanese government.

After returning to Tehran, Ahmadinejad said, "Plots carried out by the enemies in order to divide the world of Islam were discussed" and both men condemned those plots. He also said Iraq and Palestinian issues were discussed "comprehensively."