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Iran defence minister to visit Saudi, envoy says

DUBAI, April 6 (Reuters) - Iran's Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani will visit Saudi Arabia in the next few weeks as relations between the two Gulf states improve, the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh said on Thursday.

``I can confirm that the defence minister will visit Saudi Arabia during the current month of Muharram,'' Ambassador Mohammad Reza Nouri said, referring to the Islamic month which runs to early May.

He did not give an exact date for the visit.

``The visit follows the improvement of relations between the two countries in all fields, including this (defence) field,'' he told Reuters by telephone from Riyadh. ``Relations are improving day by day, and are moving forward.''

He said Shamkhani was expected to meet King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah and was also expected to hold extensive talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Sultan.

During Prince Sultan's visit to Iran last year, the two countries agreed to exchange military attaches.

Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily improved since the election of reformist President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, after years of mutual suspicion following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.


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