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Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:12AM
Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei

Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei

Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaei has rejected as baseless accusations of Iran sending weapons to Somalia and Yemen. In a letter to President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Zhang Yesui on Thursday, Khazaei said initial investigations showed that the ship intercepted by the Yemeni government does not belong to the Islamic Republic. The Iranian official said the ship had been registered in a European country and sailed under the flag of Panama, adding that none of the vessel’s personnel were Iranian. Referring to similar accusations leveled against Iran by Yemen, a number of which were later rejected by Yemeni officials, Khazaei said no proof about the latest allegation has yet been presented. Describing the allegations as “fabrications and baseless,” Khazaei said Tehran categorically rejects the claims made by the Yemeni government. Earlier in February, Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi accused Iran of smuggling arms into the Arab country. The Yemeni government asked the United Nations to probe a seized ship it claims contained Iran-made weapons. Officials in Washington had earlier said that the ship was intercepted on January 23 in coordination with the US Navy. Tehran strongly refuted Yemen’s claim, saying that Iran attaches importance to maintaining security and stability of regional countries, particularly Yemen. In a separate letter to the UNSC president, Khazaei also rejected claims about Iran sending weapons to extremist groups in Somalia as “invalid.” The anti-Iran allegations come as the US has intensified drone strikes in Yemen sparking fear among the Yemeni residents. The Yemeni government has approved these drone attacks. Yemenis have held several anti-US rallies across the country over the past months and have called on their government to cut all ties with Washington over the deadly airstrikes. MYA/HN
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