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‘US monitors Iran ships in Suez Canal’

Posted by on February 23, 2011 0 Comment

Following the passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, the United States says it is “watching carefully” the activities of the Iranian warships in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We continue to monitor the movements of these ships and their actions,” AFP quoted US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley as saying on Tuesday.

“We will be watching carefully to see where these ships go and the implications of that,” he added.

The spokesman expressed his country’s concern over Iran’s presence in the Suez Canal at a time of ongoing widespread protests in the Middle East.

“We have concerns about Iran’s behavior in the region,” Crowley said.

On Tuesday, Iranian vessels, Khark and Alvand, crossed the Suez Canal, a strategic international shipping route in Egypt for the first time since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The 1,500-ton patrol frigate Alvand is armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the larger 33,000-ton supply vessel Khark has 250 crewmembers and can carry three helicopters.

Iran’s Navy has announced that dispatching Iranian warships to the Mediterranean is aimed at strengthening friendly relations with other countries and conveying Iran’s message of peace and security in international waterways.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed concerns over the passage of the two Iranian ships through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.

“Israel views with gravity this Iranian initiative and other developments that reinforce what we have said in past years about Israel’s security needs,” he claimed in a statement released by his office.

“Today we are witnessing the instability of the region in which we live and in which Iran is trying to profit by extending its influence by dispatching two warships to cross the Suez Canal,” added the premier.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had also claimed that the Iranian warships’ plan to sail through the canal was an act of provocation.

An Iranian diplomat, however, said on Sunday that these vessels are heading to Syria for training, and Iran’s request for passage through the Suez Canal is “within international law.”

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