Saudi Arabia has expressed doubts about the need for more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to wrap up a Gulf tour on Tuesday.
Clinton on Monday targeted Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, arguing "Iran may be heading toward a military dictatorship".
Clinton, expected to seek more diplomatic pressure on Iran, held a nearly four-hour meeting with Saudi King Abdullah.
Before heading home, Clinton also reiterated accusations against Tehran of aiming to build a nuclear bomb.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal sounded less supportive of further sanctions against the Islamic republic, qualifying such measures as a "long-term solution."
Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference in the Saudi capital that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions demands a more immediate solution than sanctions. He described sanctions as a long-term solution, and he said the "threat" is more pressing.
The minister did not identify a preferred short-term resolution.
"Sanctions are a long-term solution," the Saudi minister said. "But we see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat," referring to Iran. "We need immediate resolution rather than gradual resolution."
Prince Saud played down speculations that the oil-rich kingdom could prod Beijing not to block sanctions against Tehran by guaranteeing Beijing stable oil supplies in the event of disruption from Iran.
But, saying China took its Security Council role very seriously, the prince said: "They need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do."
Clinton's tour of Qatar and Saudi Arabia aimed to isolate Iran from its Arab neighbours in the Gulf, targeting mainly Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
U.S. officials traveling with Clinton said privately he appeared to be suggesting that sanctions may not be effective and that other action could be required.
Speaking in a televised session with students in Qatar, Clinton denied the United States planned to attack Iran and said Washington wanted "dialogue" with Tehran.
Arab states are uneasy about the possibility that military atatck by Israel against Iran could profoundly destabilize the region.
Israel, most experts estimate that it has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, considers the Islamic republic its top enemy and often threatens the country with an attack.
Related news reports:Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Şubat 2010, 15:39