TEHRAN: Iran has proposed the formation of a bloc of Muslim countries to fight terrorism and boost economic cooperation that would include its regional rival Saudi Arabia.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told a security conference on Sunday that the two countries, along with Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan, should join hands to promote “regional peace based on Islam, defending the Palestinian people, fighting terrorism and [boosting] economic interests”.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter rivals, and support opposite sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in January after Iranian demonstrators stormed Saudi diplomatic facilities in protest against the execution of a prominent Saudi Shia cleric.
Larijani said Saudi Arabia and other nations should know that Iran “is not their enemy”. He said Iran was opposed to “warmongering in Syria and Yemen” and wanted to resolve regional conflicts through “national solidarity governments resorting to democratic methods”.
“Iran is not after creating an empire and hegemony in the region,” he said. “Our viewpoint is aimed at improving unity.”
Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2016