TEHRAN, 18 April — Saudi Arabia and Iran yesterday signed a historic security agreement. Interior Minister Prince Naif signed the accord for the Kingdom while his Iranian counterpart Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari initialed it for Iran at the Iranian Interior Ministry headquarters. The signing ceremony followed a final round of meeting earlier in the evening between Prince Naif and Mussavi-Lari.
Prince Muhammad ibn Naif, assistant interior minister for security matters, members of the official delegation and the chief editors of Saudi media were present at the function. Iranian Assistant Interior Minister Gholam Bilandian, several high-ranking officials and Iranian and foreign reporters also witnessed the signing ceremony.
Applause that filled the room from the signing of the agreement had such a ripple effect that it would have echoed across the Gulf and the Middle East.
The smiling faces in the room reflected a deep sense of relief and happiness that a long and barren period in Saudi-Iranian relations had come to an end.
Right from the start, Prince Naif made it clear that the Kingdom was keen on establishing good relations with all the countries and especially those in the region. Prince Naif’s message was clear and unambiguous. Iran’s security was akin to Saudi Arabia’s security and vice versa, he said. Considerable groundwork was done prior to the visit at both public and private levels.
The visit was looked at with great importance and it was the culmination of numerous meetings between high government officials from both the countries and their heads of state.
In Tehran, political and religious circles have all welcomed the agreement and believe it will evolve a conducive atmosphere and pave the way for better understanding and more cooperation in various fields.
Prince Naif reiterated that both countries are serious in cementing relations and coordinating efforts on various Islamic issues.
Both sides viewed with concern the plight of the Iraqi people and hoped that their problems would be alleviated. Both sides would like to see that Iraq’s sovereignty and integrity are maintained.
On Afghanistan, both sides agreed that all parties should participate in peace talks. Both felt that the use of force should be avoided.
Observers here believe that a new era will begin that will bring peace, security and a better future. The signing of the agreement is seen as a sign of respect for security and stability and hope for a new beginning.
Prince Naif said Saudi Arabia decided to tackle the heart of the issues and told the Iranians they wanted to work to the core of the problems. Preliminary negotiations were long and arduous but they were conducted in an atmosphere of clarity, objectivity and cordiality.
The Iranians have proved their sincere intentions and look to Saudi Arabia as a partner in tackling terrorism, drug smuggling and money laundering. Concerns for both sides’ views were the hallmark of the various meetings.
The Iranians’ intentions toward the Gulf Cooperation Council are good. They are willing to settle all disputes in an amicable manner. Prince Naif was given a warm welcome right from the start.
He was received by various government officials and the Iranian President Muhammad Khatami who called for closer ties with Saudi Arabia to strengthen Muslim solidarity against Israeli “expansionism.”
Prince Naif also met late last night several Arab ambassadors in Tehran and explained to them the salient features of the agreement. He also outlined support for the Palestinian people and stressed that both sides are working together in this respect.
The Iranians have looked to this visit with great expectations and agreed with Prince Naif that it will not only ensure the best interests of both capitals but will also be beneficial to the entire region.