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UPDATED: 13:56, March 04, 2007
Ahmadinejad, Abdullah hold crucial talks on pressing regional issues
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Visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held crucial talks on Saturday on a string of regional issues, including Iraqi sectarian daily bloodshed.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters that the two leaders agreed to stop any attempt aimed at spreading sectarian strife in the region, especially in their neighbor Iraq.

He, however, declined to elaborate. No other details were immediately available about the talks.

Ahmadinejad arrived here earlier in the day and was greeted by King Abdullah at the airport.

The two leaders held their talks after the Saudi monarch hosted a dinner for the Iranian guest who is on his first official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Observers have expected that the Ahmadinejad-Abdullah talks would focus on means to defuse sectarian tensions in Iraq and Lebanon and prevent Iran from sliding further into isolation following Tehran's nuclear row with the West.

Expectations have also been high that the talks would produce tangible results, because it follows weeks of brisk diplomacy between the two countries by their top envoys.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Riyadh comes at a time of political crisis in Lebanon and continued sectarian bloodshed in Iraq, two multi-confessional countries where Tehran and Riyadh have an important influence.

It also precedes a conference of Iraq's neighbors in Baghdad on March 10, which Iran and Syria as well as the United States and Britain will also attend, and an Arab summit in Riyadh at the end of the month.

Political observers held that Ahmadinejad's Riyadh tour also comes at a very sensitive time when Washington is pushing for more sanctions on Tehran over its failure to comply with demands to halt its controversial uranium enrichment program.

Although the United States has publicly denied plans to strike Iran, it has built up militarily in the Gulf and refused to rule out any option.

The region is facing several potentially explosive crises points and these are all issues of common concern for Riyadh and Iran, AP has quoted Saudi analyst Khaled al-Dakhil as saying.

Source: Xinhua

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