Monday, October 17, 2011

Iran willing to look at Saudi plot evidence

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) with Pakistani finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh (R) last month. Iran is willing to look at evidence that an Iranian man plotted to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, the country's foreign minister said Monday, even as he denied the allegations had "the necessary basis in fact."
"We are prepared to consider any issue, even if it is falsely created, with patience. We have asked the Unites States to provide us with the relevant information regarding this scenario," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The U.S. State Department said last last week there had been direct contact with Iran about the alleged plot, but a senior Iranian official denied it.
Two State Department officials said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice met with Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations.
But the Iranian mission in New York denied it.
"There were no kinds of negotiations between the two countries, and there was not such a contact," said Alireza Miryousefi, press secretary for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.
Foreign Minister Salehi said Monday the American allegations of a plot were aimed at creating discord between states in the region.

And he claimed that Iran had never been involved in terrorist operations, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.
Salehi's apparent willingness to look at evidence of the plot comes in stark contrast to the response of the country's supreme leader on Saturday.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labeled the allegations "meaningless and absurd" in his first public reaction to alleged plot.
"They (the U.S.) want to isolate Iran," Khamenei said over chants of "down with America" in a speech before thousands in the western Iranian city of Gilangharb.
U.S. authorities have accused Iran of being involved in a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, in spring 2012.

The alleged scheme involved a connection to the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which formally answers to Khamenei.
Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, are accused of conspiring to hire hit men from a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a restaurant, where the ambassador would have been.
Authorities developed the case against the suspects with the help of an undercover informant posing as an associate of a Mexican drug cartel, according to officials and an FBI agent's affidavit.
Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and author, told CNN on Saturday that the described plot "just does not fit the Quds Force's M.O. (modus operandi)."

Using a drug cartel would be risky and a Quds Force agent would be more reliable than Arbabsiar, a used-car salesman in Texas, he said.
"It's sloppy. It's uncharacteristic," said Aslan. "It really does not serve Iran's interest in any legitimate way."
Iran could more easily target Saudi diplomats in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, Aslan said. "Doing so on U.S. soil is unmistakably an attack on the United States, not on Saudi Arabia."

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