Cheney, Abdullah set to discuss Iran

Talks also due to focus on Syria, Lebanon, high oil prices; Bush: Iran seeks weapon to "destroy people."

Cheney Oman 224 88 AP (photo credit: AP)
Cheney Oman 224 88 AP
(photo credit: AP)
US Vice President Dick Cheney was set to meet Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Friday for talks expected to focus on the Iranian threat, among other pressing issues. Cheney's advisors said that a long list of discussion topics included Iran, Syria, Lebanon, protecting infrastructure against terror attacks and the vice president's visit this week to Iraq and Afghanistan. High oil prices socking US consumers will also be a key topic of Friday's talks but it's unclear whether Cheney will ask the Saudis to increase production. Cheney's advisors said he review with the king steps that the consuming and producing nations can do, both in the short and long term, to stabilize the market. "They will review a broad agenda of diplomatic and security issues as well as where we are now in the global energy market," Cheney's national security adviser, John Hannah, told reporters on board the vice president's plane as he flew from Oman to Saudi Arabia. "They will have ample discussions about the problems that exist in the market and how they might be solved," he added. Cheney was greeted at the airport by the king and the two shared tea inside before heading off for the talks. Meanwhile, President Bush said Thursday that Iran was seeking to become a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East. "They've declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people - some in the Middle East. And that's unacceptable to the United States, and it's unacceptable to the world," Bush told told US-funded Radio Farda, which broadcasts to Iran in Farsi. Bush's statement came in spite of the New Intelligence Estimate which apparently downgraded the Iranian threat, stating that Iran had stopped its weapons program in 2003. Bush stressed that the US supported Iran's quest for nuclear energy and expressed hope that Washington and Teheran can "reconcile their differences" if Iran cooperates with the international community. In a second interview with the Voice of America's Persian News Network, Bush expressed America's respect and admiration for the Iranian people. "Please don't be discouraged by the slogans that say America doesn't like you, because we do, and we respect you."