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DOHA - Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, wary of the repercussions of Iran's nuclear programme, yesterday opened a two-day summit at which they were joined by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He is the first Iranian president to attend the gathering of the neighbouring bloc of wealthy Gulf Arab oil producers, that groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi King Abullah, in the Qatari capital five years after boycotting the last Doha summit due to strained ties, walked into the conference hall flanked by Ahmadinejad and Sultan Qaboos of Oman before shaking hands with the two leaders.
Before he left Tehran, Ahmadinejad hailed his invitation by the Qatari hosts and said he hoped both to attend part of the summit itself and to hold bilateral meetings with the participants.
"It seems that a new chapter of cooperation has been opened in the Persian Gulf," he said, adding that he would be submitting proposals "for the expansion of cooperation and the guarantee of security in the region".
Western nations suspect Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop an atomic bomb covertly.
Despite Iranian denials, the US and its allies are pressing for stronger UN sanctions. - Sapa