Monday, February 05, 2007

Perspective: Rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia now in talks to defuse regional tensions

BEIRUT, Lebanon: Relations between Mideast heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia are bumpy at the best of times, and have become tenser in recent months as Shiite-Sunni troubles have risen. But trouble in Lebanon and Iraq is prompting the two giants to engage in frank new talks in an effort to head off regional crisis.

The clearest sign of the new diplomacy has been in Lebanon, where a joint Saudi-Iranian effort defused a general strike called by the pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah group after the country erupted into violence two weeks ago.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal has said the two countries began working together after Iran approached his country to "cooperate in averting strife between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune