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Diplomats: Iranian President To Visit Saudi Arabia

May 20, 1993

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ Displaying a thaw in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a diplomat said Thursday that Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani is planning to visit King Fahd.

The two oil giants became wary neighbors across the Persian Gulf following the 1979 revolution by Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. But relations have been improving since they restored diplomatic ties in 1991.

News of the planned presidential visit came as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati wrapped up a two-day trip to Saudi Arabia.

Velayati was quoted by state-run Tehran radio, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp., as saying his talks with the Saudi leadership led to an agreement to expand relations.

Sabah Zankanni, the Iranian ambassador to the Jiddah-based Organization of Islamic Conference, said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal would go to Tehran in early June to work out details of Rafsanjani’s visit.

Iranian and Arab diplomats in Riyadh, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the visit likely would not come until after Iran’s June 11 presidential election. It was not clear if Rafsanjani would still make the trip if he is defeated.

The diplomats said Rafsanjani first would come to Saudi Arabia, where he would also perform a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the sites of Islam’s holiest shrines.