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Riyadh: Saudi Arabia is willing to negotiate with Iran

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said on Tuesday that the Saudi kingdom has extended an invitation to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Riyadh, expressing his country's willingness to engage in negotiations with Tehran.

During a press conference held within the preparation for the Forum on Economy and Cooperation of Arab Countries with the Central Asian States, Al-Faisal said "Any time that [Zarif] sees fit to come, we are willing to receive him. Iran is a neighbour, we have relations with them and we will negotiate with them, we will talk with them."

Saudi is a strong supporter of rebels fighting against Iran's close ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, in Syria.

On a separate note, AFP reported that the US Secretary of Defence, Chack Hagel arrived on Tuesday in Jeddah – the first stop of a Mideast tour that includes Jordan and Israel; to discuss Iran and the war in Syria with Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Defence Minister Salman bin Sultan welcomed Hagel in Jeddah's King Abdulaziz Airport.

Hagel is expected to meet with senior Saudi officials and take part in the ministerial meeting for the Gulf Cooperation Council's ministers of defence, which is scheduled to be held at Jeddah on Wednesday.

Washington and GCC countries disagree on several issues, including Iran, Syria and Egypt.

GCC states are worried about the results of the agreement that was signed last November between Iran and the world super powers. The agreement entails that Iran would freeze its nuclear program in return for the easing of sanctions imposed on Tehran.

US President, Barack Obama had visited Riyadh in March to reassure the Saudi leadership and reiterate that the two states' strategic interests still intersect.

With regard to Syria, Washington which is criticised for not supporting opposition fighters strongly enough, expressed concerns about the support provided by some GCC countries to radical factions among the Syrian opposition.

Hagel is expected to urge GCC defence ministers to engage in closer co-ordination in the issues of air defence, anti-missile systems, navy security, and information security, according to his spokesperson.

Washington, who has provided the Gulf region with vast amount of anti-missiles systems in the past few years, has called on the GCC to make collective purchases of arms through the GCC, in order to secure its defence systems and guarantee that it would be able to confront any possible danger from Iran.

IranMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
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