Saudi Arabia asks Iran to stay out of disputes

/ Source: The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia's top diplomat on Sunday urged Iran to stay out of internal Arab disputes, in particular in Lebanon and among the Palestinians.

Iran's foreign minister made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia amid rising tensions between the Islamic Republic and the Arab world.

Manouchehr Mottaki was met by his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, at Riyadh Air Force base and met later with the Saudi monarch.

The visit comes after Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria held a mini-summit in Riyadh last week to patch up their differences, which largely revolve around the role of Iran in the region.

Iran supports Islamist movements Hamas and Hezbollah and is often at odds with U.S.-allied Arab regimes in the region. Arab nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are also wary of Iran's nuclear program.

At a news conference Sunday, al-Faisal called for "mutual respect" between his nation and Iran.

"Although we appreciate the Iranian concern in Arab issues, from our point of view, this should be conducted through the legitimate Arab doorways," he said.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit accused Iran on last week of "manipulating" Arab states to increase its influence, and Saudi Arabia has called for a "unified Arab" approach to Iran.

Syria is Iran's closest Arab ally, something Saudi Arabia and Egypt would like to change.