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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Landmark Iran-Saudi security deal
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari (left) with Saudi Prince Nayef
The deal helps to ease long-standing mutual suspicions
Iran and Saudi Arabia have signed a major security accord to combat terrorism, drug-trafficking and organised crime.

The pact, which took two years to negotiate, also covers measures on border surveillance and co-operation between their police forces, but falls short of military co-operation.


We consider Saudi Arabia's security as Iran's security

Prince Nayef

The accord was signed in the Iranian capital Tehran by the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, and his Iranian counterpart, Abdulvahed Moussavi Lari.

Prince Nayef, the first Saudi interior minister to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, said he hoped that similar security pacts would be signed between Iran and other countries in the region.

Tensions

Tehran and Riyadh severed relations in 1988, a year after Iranian Muslim pilgrims in Mecca clashed with Saudi police during an anti-US protest that left more than 400 dead.

Ties were restored in 1991 and relations between the two Gulf neighbours have warmed since the 1997 election of the reformist Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami.

Mr Khatami paid a landmark visit to Saudi Arabia in 1999.

Saudi Arabia used to be extremely wary of Iran's stated policy of exporting its Islamic revolution.

Tehran is known to want to sign defence pacts with its Gulf neighbours, but co-operation is difficult because it opposes the deployment of US and Western forces in the region.

Mr Lari said the accord with Saudi Arabia was the "first step" towards closer co-operation, and it promised "peace and friendship".

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Media reports
Iran accuses West of fomenting revolt
25 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iran pledges Gulf co-operation
30 Apr 00 | Middle East
Gulf nations seek end to islands row
16 May 99 | Middle East
Khatami visit opens Saudi door
11 Sep 99 | Middle East
UAE slams Iran over 'Gulf tension'
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