Arabian Interior Minister Prince Nayef said in remarks published
yesterday that he would sign a security pact with Iran during an
official visit to the Islamic republic on April 15. Asked by the
Arabic-language daily Okaz if the delay in signing, which had been
expected in February, was a result of differences between the two
countries, Prince Nayef said: "There is no difference really. We
have agreed on the formula and security ties between the two countries
will be good, God willing."
Saudi Arabia says the pact aims at fighting crime, terrorism and drug
trafficking and should not be seen as a regional defense pact.
Non-Arab Iran opposes the deployment of U.S. and Western forces in the
region and is keen to sign defense pacts with its Arab neighbors. But
Gulf Arab states, which look to the West for military support, have
declined Iran's offer.
Iran is a major route for drug trafficking from Pakistan and neighboring
Afghanistan to Gulf Arab states and Europe. Saudi Arabia has moved
faster than some other Gulf Arab states in improving ties with Iran
after years of mutual suspicion that followed the 1979 Islamic
revolution in Iran.