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Saudi FM Calls for Unity in Face of 'Iranian Challenge'


Saudi Arabia's foreign minister is calling on his Arab counterparts to forge a common vision to deal with what he called the "Iranian challenge."

At a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo Tuesday, Prince Saud al-Faisal said that resolving problems among Arabs depends on a joint position regarding Iran's stance on Gulf security and its nuclear program.

In recent months non-Arab Iran has announced plans to boost its presence in the Gulf, especially around the key oil transit lanes of the Strait of Hormuz. It is also pursuing a nuclear program that Western nations believe is aimed at producing atomic weapons.

Arab states have also expressed concern about overtures by the new U.S. administration toward Tehran.

On Monday, a senior U.S. official said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assured her United Arab Emirates counterpart during a Cairo meeting that the U.S. would move forward on relations with Iran only in consultation with Washington's Arab allies.

Regional worries about Iranian intentions flared last month when an Iranian official claimed that Bahrain was an Iranian province as recently as 1971, prompting the Gulf Island nation to halt a lucrative gas deal with Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top officials worked quickly to defuse the tensions.

Iran was also quick to denounce the sluggish response of some Arab leaders to Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.
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