Iran says US blame over Iraq protests ‘astonishing’

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi blamed the unrest on US support for “groups which have spread and promoted violence and extremism.” (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Iran says US blame over Iraq protests ‘astonishing’

TEHRAN: Iran described as “astonishing” Wednesday US accusations that its allies in Iraq were responsible for attacks on US diplomatic missions during deadly unrest last week centered on third city Basra.
Both the US consulate in Basra and its embassy in Baghdad came under attack but the offices of political parties and militias backed by Iran were the principal target of the unrest in Basra while the Iranian consulate in the city was burnt to the ground.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi blamed the unrest on US support for “groups which have spread and promoted violence and extremism.”
“The US government must be held accountable for its years of support for these groups,” Ghasemi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
“America should know that by playing such clumsy blame games, it cannot cover up the consequences of its wrong, fruitless and destabilising policies in the region.
“Issuing such statements lacks credibility, and is astonishing, provocative and irresponsible.”
Ghasemi was responding to a statement by the White House on Tuesday, which criticized Iran for failing to prevent the violence, particularly the attacks on the US diplomatic missions.
“Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons,” the statement said.
The rare attack on the US embassy in Baghdad came on Friday when three mortar rounds were fired at the capital’s fortified Green Zone, though no casualties or damage was reported.
Bitter foes Iran and the United States are Iraq’s principal allies and have long vied for political influence.


Hamas denies collapse of Egypt-brokered Israel truce talks

Updated 22 min 14 sec ago
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Hamas denies collapse of Egypt-brokered Israel truce talks

  • “The efforts of our Egyptian brothers continue on the file of Palestinian reconciliation..." a senior Hamas official said
  • “We in Hamas are responsive to these ongoing efforts,” said Sami Abu Zuhri

GAZA: A senior Hamas official denied Tuesday that Egyptian-brokered talks on reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority and a lasting truce with Israel have collapsed, but admitted progress was slow.
“The efforts of our Egyptian brothers continue on the file of Palestinian reconciliation and the calm with the (Israeli) occupation,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
“We in Hamas are responsive to these ongoing efforts.”
Egypt has for months been seeking to broker two separate deals.
One would bring Hamas and president Mahmud Abbas’ secular Fatah party together a decade after a bloody split, and another would see a lasting truce between Hamas and Israel in exchange for a loosening of the Jewish state’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
UN officials have also been involved in the indirect discussions between Gaza’s Islamist ruler Hamas and Israel, which have fought three wars since 2008.
Abu Zuhri accused Fatah of obstructing the talks, while Fatah has accused Hamas of being intransigent.
A senior Hamas leader told AFP Tuesday that a delegation would visit Cairo to continue negotiations in the coming days.
An Egyptian security delegation traveled to Gaza for a few hours on Saturday for a visit that included a meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
Hamas has encouraged months of violent border protests against Israel.
After a lull, protests have regained strength in recent weeks as talks were seen to stall.