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Author: 
M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2006-05-23 03:00

RIYADH, 23 May 2006 — Saudi Arabian and Russian officials have agreed to set up a joint working group to combat regional and international terrorism.

Riyadh and Moscow have also reaffirmed the need for more diplomatic efforts to solve the problem caused by Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors to assure its nuclear program is only for the purposes of nuclear power, said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov here on Sunday night.

Referring to the formation of the joint committee to combat terror, the Russian foreign minister, who wrapped up his two-day visit to the Kingdom yesterday, said: “The joint working group would hold its first meeting soon with a mandate to combat terrorism and to ensure security, particularly in the Middle East.”

The joint panel will be composed of senior officials from the foreign ministries of the two countries as well as representatives of the government agencies concerned, he said.

Before his departure to Kuwait, Lavrov yesterday held talks on a range of regional issues with GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman Al-Attiya.

“The regional peace and security issues were the focus of talks of the Russian foreign minister and the GCC chief here,” said a Russian Embassy spokesman. The talks with Al-Attiya were significant in view the recent extraordinary GCC summit, which expressed concerns over the Iranian nuclear program.

In the joint press conference, Prince Saud and Lavrov reaffirmed the need for “peaceful settlement of regional problems and intensifying efforts to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, which should also include Israel.”

Saud said diplomatic solutions to the Iran standoff “have not been exhausted.”

“The talks of other options are premature and would not produce the desired result,” he added.

Lavrov said the Russian government was opposed to the use of sanctions on Iran as sanctions have never worked.

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