Saudi foreign minister smiles on Putin's offer to help develop nuclear energy
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter and a key US ally, said on Wednesday the kingdom does not see any obstacle to cooperating with Russia on developing a nuclear-energy program. "There is no obstacle to cooperate with Russia on ... nuclear energy," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference.
Analysts said the plan by Saudi Arabia is a warning shot to Iran that it could enter a regional arms race and start developing nuclear capability.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday during a visit to Saudi Arabia that his country would consider helping the kingdom with a possible atomic-energy program.
"On nuclear energy, there was a [Russian] contact with the kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council," he said when asked if Saudi Arabia and Russia had made any agreements.
Saudi Arabia and fellow GCC members Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates said in December they would study embarking on a joint civil atomic program.
The US and its regional allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, suspect Iran's nuclear energy program aims to develop weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday for talks expected to cover his country's nuclear work, Iranian media said.
"Sources in Saudi Arabia said the aim of this visit is to exchange views over Iran's nuclear issue and the recent changes in the region ... Larijani will leave Riyadh this evening," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said. "According to Saudi news sources, Larijani will also discuss the significant role of Iran and Saudi Arabia in resolving the Lebanese conflict as well as current developments in the Middle East region," it added.
Larijani was in Riyadh last month for talks with Saudi officials which also covered Iran's role in Iraq, where Saudi Arabia accuses Iranian-backed Shiite militias of sectarian killings of Sunni Iraqis.
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