Hillary Clinton heads to Gulf to keep pressure on Iran

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to arrive in the Gulf to rally Arab support for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

In Qatar, Mrs Clinton will address the annual US-Islamic World Forum and meet Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country opposes the sanctions.

The three-day tour will include her first ever trip to Saudi Arabia.

The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on Iran by launching a diplomatic offensive in the Gulf.

Washington wants the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran.

Iran says its nuclear programme is to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas, but the West suspects it of trying to develop atomic weapons.

Efforts to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process are also expected to be on the agenda during Mrs Clinton's tour.

The secretary of state delayed her trip by one day after her husband, former President Bill Clinton, underwent a heart procedure at a New York hospital.

In Qatar, she will hold talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani.

And in Saudi Arabia, Mrs Clinton will meet King Abdullah, as well as foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

A state department official travelling with Mrs Clinton said the US expected Saudi Arabia, which has growing trade relations with China, to persuade Beijing to abandon opposition to tougher sanctions against Iran.

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