Ahmadinejad to attend Gulf summit

Iranian leader to attend Doha gathering of Gulf Arab leaders amid nuclear tensions.

    Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful [AP]

    Ahmadinejad on Monday hailed a "new chapter" in ties with Gulf Arab states as he left Tehran to attend the 28th summit of the GCC countries.
     
    "I have been invited by the Qatari Emir (Sheikh Hamad bin  Khalifa al-Thani). Of course I will participate in a part of this summit," he said.
     
    "It seems that a new chapter of co-operation has been opened in the Persian Gulf."
     
    Ahmadinejad said he would be submitting proposals "for the expansion of co-operation and the guarantee of security in the  region".
     
    He will also hold bilateral meetings with the participants.
     
    Gulf leaders wary
     
    Last month, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Bahrain's crown prince, accused Tehran for the first time of seeking to acquire nuclear arms.
     
    Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the UAE's foreign minister, has also expressed concern over the issue.
     
    "The GCC states follow closely the Iranian nuclear issue which worries them due to its political consequences, and as far as security is concerned in light of the arm-wrestling between Iran and the international community," he told a Qatari newspaper.
     
    The GCC countries have already announced plans to acquire their own civilian nuclear programme.
     
    A compromise GCC proposal for an internationally controlled consortium to provide Middle Eastern countries with enriched uranium was greeted by Iran without enthusiasm.
     
    Despite Iranian denials, the US and its allies are pressing for stronger UN sanctions against Tehran.
     
    Currency concern
     
    Leaders of the Gulf states will also address economic issues as they face mounting pressure either to end their currencies' peg to a sliding dollar or to revalue.
     
    The UAE's state-run news agency has said it expected rulers to change currency policy, but retracted the report after ministers from other states said reform was not even on their agenda.
     

    Abdul Rahman al-Attiya of the GCC
    has called for dialogue on Iran [AFP]

    "We will not drop it. That's it," said Ibrahim al-Assaf, the Saudi finance minister, of the riyal's peg to the dollar, before the summit.
     
    Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, has not changed the riyal's rate since 1986.
     
    With the Gulf's largest population, the kingdom fears a revaluation would cut the riyal value of dollar-denominated oil revenue with prices soaring.
     
    Its smaller, wealthier neighbours are more concerned that the falling value of the dollar is stirring trouble among millions of expatriate workers and hampering their central banks in the fight against inflation, which is at its highest levels for a decade in the region.
     
    After construction workers rioted in Dubai over savings lost to the dollar's slide, the UAE's central bank governor said last month he was under mounting social and economic pressure to drop its peg and instead track a number of currencies.
     
    GCC leaders have already decided to stick to a self-imposed 2010 target date for the launch of a regional single currency, despite rising inflation, a delegate told the AFP news agency.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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