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With eye on Iran, Saudi insists solution to Iraq crisis is internal

Published on Jun 19, 2014 11:13 PM

DOHA/DUBAI (REUTERS) - Saudi Arabia kept up a drumbeat of opposition to any foreign intervention in Iraq on Thursday in an apparent message to regional rival Iran, which has hinted at possible cooperation with the United States in quelling insurgents menacing Baghdad.

Washington is considering an Iraqi request to launch air strikes on the positions of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebels, and the Iranian president has said his countrymen will not hesitate to defend Shi'ite shrines there if need be.

Either scenario would probably dismay Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab governments wary about what they see as meddling by Shi'ite Muslim power Iran in the region and opposed to any armed action that could harm Sunni communities in Iraq.

In a statement, the Saudi embassy in Britain reiterated that Riyadh opposed "all foreign intervention and interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. Instead, we urge all the people of Iraq, whatever their religious denominations, to unite to overcome the current threats and challenges facing the country."

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