Saudi Visitor to Talk About Tanks and Iran

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Crown Prince Sultan began an official visit to Russia Wednesday to discuss regional issues with President Vladimir Putin on Middle East issues, including Iran's nuclear program.

Aside from issues related to Iraq, Lebanon and the Middle East peace process, Saudi diplomatic sources said Prince Sultan will discuss the six Gulf Arab nations offer to Tehran to provide Iran with enriched uranium to help resolve its conflict with the West over its nuclear program.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the Middle East Economic Digest in London early this month that the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE -- would take part in developing the uranium enrichment plant. He suggested Switzerland as the neutral country.

Iran promptly welcomed the GCC proposal but its deputy nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi said the offer would not be acceptable if the condition was to stop enrichment in Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that he would discuss the proposal with other Arab nations, Dow Jones newswires reported.

Iran refuses to meet world demands to freeze uranium enrichment saying that its nuclear program was only for peaceful purposes of nuclear technology.

The Saudi sources ruled out the possibility that Prince Sultan, defense minister since 1962, would sign weapons deals though the delegation accompanying him included Prince Khaled bin Sultan, his son and assistant defense minister.

Russia has been trying to sell Saudi Arabia 150 of its T-90 tanks and the Saudi army last year carried out desert trials on the tanks to test their capabilities under the scorching desert conditions in the kingdom.

In February, President Putin visited Saudi Arabia, the first visit by a Russian leader to the kingdom and held talks with King Abdullah and Prince Sultan.