Abdullah (L), Suleiman and Assad (archives)
Photo: Reuters
Iran concerned about improved Syrian-Saudi ties
Al Hayat reports Tehran working to prevent Riyadh from increasing influence in Lebanon, worried about Saudi cooperation with Damascus

Iran is concerned about the improving relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia, the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat reported Monday.


According to the report, Iran is displeased with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi King Abdullah's pledge to work together to help stabilize Lebanon.


During an unprecedented joint trip to Beirut in late July, Assad and Abdullah urged Lebanon's rival factions to avoid violence.


"The leaders stressed the importance of stability... the commitment (of the Lebanese) not to resort to violence and the need to place the country's interests above all sectarian interests," said a communiqué issued after a mini-summit between Assad, the Saudi monarch and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.


The statement also stressed the need to "resort to legal institutions and Lebanon's unity government to resolve any differences."


The pair made the hours-long visit in a united bid to ease tensions over reports of an impending indictment against members the Shiite Islamist party Hezbollah for the 2005 murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafik Hariri.


The leaders who took part in the summit urged the continuation of the investigation into the assassination.


As part of its efforts to prevent the Saudis from increasing their influence in Lebanon, Iran sent Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, to Beirut and Damascus. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also visited Syria, and senior Iranian officials were sent to both Lebanon and Syria to thwart a possible agreement that would not be to Tehran's liking.


Speaking to Ynet, Syrian sources confirmed that Assad met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah due to Iran's concerns. According to the Al-Hayat report, Syria expects Iran to be more understanding of Syria's interests, particularly with regards to its influence in Lebanon.


Reuters contributed to the report



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