Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:38 am (KSA) 21:38 pm (GMT)

Clinton arrives in Saudi for Iran, Mideast talks

U.S. State Secretary Clinton is due to meet Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
U.S. State Secretary Clinton is due to meet Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Riyadh on Monday for talks with Saudi leaders on Washington's drive for tough new sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

She was due to meet Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal before heading to a desert camp outside the capital for talks with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

In neighbouring Qatar earlier, Clinton warned that Iran was heading towards a "military dictatorship" dominated by the elite Revolutionary Guard that posed a threat to the whole world.

The U.S. chief diplomat told students in Qatar that the United States was not seeking to use military action against Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions but rather seeking to use international pressure through the U.N. Security Council.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

 We see the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament is being supplanted and Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Such pressure "will be particularly aimed at those enterprises controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which we believe is in effect supplanting the government of Iran," Clinton said.

"We see the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament is being supplanted and Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," Clinton told students at the Qatari branch of Carnegie-Mellon University.

In a speech in Doha on Sunday night to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, Clinton said: "I fear the rise of the influence and power of the Revolutionary Guard... poses a very direct threat to everyone."

The United States last week imposed a fresh round of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards and hopes for U.N. sanctions to target the group blamed for Iran's nuclear program and alleged support to militants in the region.

"I would like to figure out a way to handle it," she told a conference in Qatar, which lies across the Gulf from Iran.

"Certainly we don't want to be engaging while they're building their bomb," she said.

Iran elite Revolutionary Guards march during the parade

She told students that her talks with leaders in the region revealed great concern about Iran and its intentions.

"They worry about Iran's intentions. They worry about whether Iran will be a good neighbor" and live peacefully, she said.

Frustrated that a year-long drive to engage Iran in nuclear and other talks has yielded little, President Barack Obama's administration last week imposed fresh unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

U.S. officials also want the U.N. Security Council to draft new sanctions against a force they say runs Iran's nuclear program, supports anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli militants and cracks down on Iranian anti-government protesters.

"Direct threat"

 It's time for Iran to be held to account for its activities which do already and can continue to have destabilizing effects 
Clinton

During a visit to Qatar on Sunday, Clinton told Iran's neighbors it appeared increasingly evident Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons and warned the Revolutionary Guards' rising power poses "a direct threat" to all.

A Clinton aide told AFP and another reporter on condition of anonymity that the U.S. chief diplomat's remarks on China and Iran's alleged atomic weapons drive were more forceful than her previous ones.

"It's time for Iran to be held to account for its activities which do already and can continue to have destabilizing effects," Clinton said in a speech to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, set up after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

During a three-day tour that began in Qatar, the chief U.S. diplomat added to the U.S. sense of urgency after Iran began Tuesday to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity while insisting its intent was peaceful.

"Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps," she said after talks with Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, who is both foreign minister and prime minister.

"We are now working actively with our regional and international partners... to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course," she said.

Turkey, China positions

Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that the nuclear rights of his country were not negotiable

Clinton also met in Doha with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose country has good ties with Iran and has repeatedly offered to serve as mediator on the nuclear issue.

A Clinton aide who asked not to be named said Turkey's stand was close to that of China, but made no comment.

Turkey's foreign minister is due to visit Iran on Monday, the aide said.

Clinton struck an upbeat note about support for sanctions among the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

She said Russia has said "publicly and privately that it can and will support sanctions," and detected a shift in the Chinese position.

"The weight is maybe beginning to move toward not wanting to be either isolated or inadvertently contributing to instability that would undermine their economic interests," she said.

She recalled China's investment stake in Iran and its oil imports from that country.

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