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Wednesday Feb. 10, 2010 8:38 AM (EST+7)
Clinton to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Read more: Hillary Clinton, US policy, US foreign policy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia next week for talks that a US official said on Tuesday would likely focus on Iran, Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

On Sunday, Clinton will meet the Qatari ruler, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and will speak at the US-Islamic World Forum, a meeting hosted by the Qatari government and the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The gathering promotes dialogue between officials and private citizens from the United States and the Muslim world.

She will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday and Tuesday for talks with Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the State Department said in a statement.

Iran's nuclear program and the Obama administration's unsuccessful efforts to foster peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are likely to be major topics in both places, as is Iraq as it approaches parliamentary electons next month.

The United States accuses Iran of using its civil nuclear program as a cover to develop an atomic bomb, a possibility that uneases Gulf Arab states. Iran says its nuclear program is to generate electricity so it can export more oil and gas.

Not only does she value the opportunity to speak at the forum and the bilaterals, where she will talk about Iran, the peace process and Iraq, but she plans to do the same kind of outreach in Qatar and Saudi Arabia ... that she has done in other parts of the world, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition that he not be identified.

Clinton, who often holds public question-and-answer sessions with students and others when she travels, plans some specific outreach to women, he said, without giving details.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)






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