Riyadh: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Riyadh Monday, where she will likely seek to shore up Saudi support for tougher sanctions on Iran and for renewed Mideast peace talks.
Clinton was received by her Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, ahead of talks with Saudi Arabia`s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Saudi Arabia has backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his contention that there would be "no point" in renewing peace talks with Israel so long as Israeli construction in West Bank settlements continues.
The kingdom last year rebuffed US attempts to seek "confidence building" gestures to Israel, hewing rather to the Arab Peace Initiative it first proposed in 2002 that offered Israel full diplomatic recognition from Arab states in exchange for the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the Israel`s 1967 borders.
Her talks with King Abdullah follow strong words on Iran from the chief US diplomat in neighbouring Qatar earlier Monday.
"Iran is moving toward military dictatorship," Clinton told students in Doha Monday, warning that the country`s Revolutionary Guard`s influence was superseding that of the president, the supreme leader, and the parliament.
She said the US would continue to target enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, which plays a large role in Iran`s economy, particularly in its energy and missile-production sectors.
Last week, the US froze the assets of a Revolutionary Guard general and subsidiaries of a construction company it had previously taken action against because of its alleged role in producing weapons of mass destruction.
Her remarks came as the top US military stressed the US commitment to exhausting diplomatic options before resorting to a military strike to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
In a message to Israeli military officers late Sunday, Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned against the "unintended consequences" that a military strike against Iran could trigger.
"I`m still hopeful that diplomacy and sanctions and dialogue will achieve results," he said.