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Saudi crown prince, Iran's president hold talks after oil accord

RIYADH, March 8 (AFP) - Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah ibn Abdel Aziz has held talks with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, after their countries agreed to combat the collapse in oil prices, the official news agency SPA announced.

It said they discussed "bilateral and regional ties" in a telephone call late Sunday, but gave no details.

The two Gulf states' oil ministers agreed in Riyadh the same day to eliminate the surplus on the international market that has led to a price collapse, according to SPA.

"Both sides agreed that there is an excess of oil over demand on the market, and that this must be got rid of in order to improve prices, which is the aim of the producing and exporting countries," it said.

But SPA made no specific mention of output cuts.

Iran's ties with its Gulf Arab neighbours have been strained by an islands dispute with the United Arab Emirates. Gulf foreign ministers last week condemned Iranian military exercises near the three islands.

But Saudi Arabia is to receive its first Iranian presidential visit later this month when Khatami joins the annual hajj Moslem pilgrimage.

Iran was on the agenda of talks between Saudi leaders and US Defence Secretary William Cohen on Sunday.

Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan ibn Abdel Aziz told Cohen he planned to visit Iran on April 17 to seek ways of engaging the government of Khatami, a moderate cleric, according to US officials.


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