Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:18 am (KSA) 21:18 pm (GMT)

Saudis deny report of test clearing skies to Israel

An Israeli military jet (File)
An Israeli military jet (File)

Saudi Arabia denied a British report alleging it has conducted tests to stand down its air defenses to allow Israeli warplanes to use its airspace in any bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Riyadh slammed the news reported by The Times newspaper as "false" and "slanderous," the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

"Saudi Arabia has followed the false and slanderous allegations reported by some British media that it would let Israel attack Iran via its airspace," SPA quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.

 Saudi Arabia has followed the false and slanderous allegations reported by some British media that it would let Israel attack Iran via its airspace 
Saudi Foreighn Ministry official

The kingdom "rejects violating its sovereignty or the use of its airspace or territories by anyone to attack any country," the unidentified official said, noting that Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Israel, which regards Iran as its principal threat, has refused to rule out using military action to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is aimed solely at power generation.

The Times report mentioned that Riyadh, which views Iran as a regional threat, had agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance in the event of any bombing raid on Iran.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council slapped a fourth round of military and financial sanctions on Tehran for refusing to abandon its controversial nuclear program.

Iran has refused to heed U.N. demands to suspend uranium enrichment, insisting that it is aimed at peaceful nuclear fuel production. It denies seeking to make atomic weapons, as suspected by the West.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim state, wants a peaceful resolution to Iran's nuclear standoff with the West and has questioned the effectiveness of tighter sanctions.

Saudi Arabia has no political and economic ties with Israel. It championed an Arab-Israeli peace initiative, which was adopted by fellow Arab countries in 2003, offering normal tied with Israel if it returned occupied Arab land.

Saudi Arabia won't engage Israel until it ends the occupation of Arab territories, Prince Turki bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz, the former envoy to the U.S. and a member of the Saudi royal family, said in September 2009.

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