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First visitSAUDI ARABIA is set for the first visit by an Iranian president later this month when Iranian leader Mohamed Khatami joins the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Saudi Defence Minister Sultan Ibn Abdel-Aziz said he would visit Iran after the pilgrimage.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi held talks on Tuesday with Crown Prince Abdullah in which they discussed oil prices, Iraq, Afghanistan and the faltering Middle East peace process. Kharrazi, on his second visit to the kingdom since November, also held separate talks with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud Al-Faisal.
State deal?PALESTINIAN leader Yasser Arafat will ask US President Bill Clinton, when they meet on 23 March in Washington, to formally recognise for the first time the Palestinians' right to statehood, Said Abdel-Rahim, a close adviser to Arafat, said yesterday.
Such US recognition could be part of a broader international deal under which the Palestinians would agree to postpone a unilateral declaration of independence beyond 4 May, when interim peace accords with Israel expire, Reuters reported.
Abdel-Rahim said that no final decision had been taken by Palestinian leaders on the issue.
Spy scandalUN SECRETARY-GENERAL Kofi Annan insisted on Tuesday that he had no direct knowledge of spying activities by the US in Iraq but said he hoped that UN disarmament officials had focused on dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Pressed in a news conference about a Washington Post report that over a period of three years US intelligence infiltrated UN arms inspections teams, Annan said that UNSCOM reported to the Security Council and not to him.
The White House continued its defence by insisting that US spying in Iraq was designed to support UN arms inspections.
Meanwhile, UN officials expressed their concern that US strikes on Iraq, which Baghdad claims have damaged its oil pipeline facilities, will frustrate UN efforts to get food and medicine to Iraqis under the oil-for-food programme.