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Riyadh seeks Russian help to prevent US strike on Iran

AFP | April 11 2006

Saudi Arabia, concerned that US military action against Iran would wreak further havoc in the region, has asked Russia to block any bid by Washington to secure UN cover for an attack, a Russian diplomat said Tuesday.

During a visit to Moscow last week, the head of the Saudi National Security Council "urged Russia to strive to prevent the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution which the United States could use as justification to launch a military assault to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities," the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former longtime ambassador to the United States who is often tasked with delicate missions, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on April 4.

Saudi officials did not give details about the meeting but the Russian foreign ministry said the issue of the Iranian nuclear program was broached during the talks.

Several reports in the US media at the weekend raised the possibility that the administration of US President George W. Bush was considering US air strikes against Iran's nuclear sites.

The United States believes Iran is secretly trying to build atomic weapons under cover of a nuclear energy program, something Iran has consistently denied.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said last week that Riyadh believes Tehran's assertion.

"That is why we don't see a danger in Iran acquiring knowledge about nuclear energy provided it does not lead to (nuclear) proliferation. Of course, we believe proliferation is a threat," he said.

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