US working with Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming Houthis: envoy

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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at presser. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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Brian Hook, left, the US special representative on Iran, listens to a member of the Saudi military forces at an army base in Al Kharj, south of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 21, 2019. (AFP)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook at weapons display by Coalition (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
Updated 24 June 2019
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US working with Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming Houthis: envoy

  • ‘If we do not succeed in tackling Iran in Yemen, it will increase the risk of a greater conflict in the region’
  • Iran ‘responds to diplomacy with diplomacy ... war with firm defense’

AL KHARJ, Saudi Arabia: Iran’s use of surrogates to attack Saudi Arabia and destabilize the region needs to be countered, Brian Hook, the US special representative on Iran, told reporters on Friday.

“If we do not succeed in tackling Iran in Yemen, it will increase the risk of a greater conflict in the region,” he said.

The US envoy also said that they are working with the Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming the Houthis.

Hook also said Iran has no right to respond to diplomacy “with military force,” a day after Tehran shot down a US reconnaissance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

“Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force,” Hook said.

“Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Friday on his Twitter account that Iran “responds to diplomacy with diplomacy ... war with firm defense,” reacting to remarks by US envoy Hook.

The downing of the drone — which Washington insists was over international waters but Tehran says was within its airspace — has seen tensions between the two countries spike further after a series of attacks on tankers the US and its staunch ally, Saudi Arabia, have blamed on Iran.

Tehran denies having been behind the attacks but has frequently threatened in the past to block the vital sea lanes into and out of the Gulf.

“Iran is responsible for escalating tensions in the region. They continue to reject diplomatic overtures to deescalate tensions,” Hook said.

The US diplomat was in Saudi Arabia, where he met deputy defense minister Prince Khaled bin Salman on Friday morning.

The two discussed efforts to counter Iranian actions, Salman said on Twitter.

“We affirmed the kingdom’s support for the United States’ maximum pressure campaign on Iran, which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism, and discussed latest Iranian attacks on the kingdom,” he said.

US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly said he does not want war, offered mixed messages over the drone, warning that Iran “made a very big mistake” — but also suggesting a “loose and stupid” Iranian general accidentally shot it down.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have grown sharply since May last year when Trump unilaterally abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, and re-imposed sweeping sanctions.

The US has since bolstered its military presence in the Middle East and blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

Trump has said he remains open to negotiations with Iran, but its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week categorically ruled out talks with Trump after his abandonment of the nuclear deal.

Iran “has no trust in America and will not in any way repeat the bitter experience of the previous negotiations with America,” Khamenei said.


Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

Updated 18 July 2019
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Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

  • Some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security, Abdollahian says

BEIRUT: “Lebanon must be kept out of all regional crises,” said Iran’s Shoura Council assistant speaker for international affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

“We say at the top of our voice that Iran and its allies will not allow the Zionist entity and the US to damage the region’s security.”

Following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Abdollahian said that Tehran “is convinced that the security of Lebanon is the security of the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Abdollahian added that “some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security.”

He described his talks with Berri as “good and constructive.”

“We will not allow Israel, US to interfere with regional security.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Shoura Council official

Abdollahian said: “We have come today to reaffirm that Iran fully supports the people, army, resistance and government of Lebanon, and we look forward to developing relations between our two countries until they reach the highest levels.”

He said he believes that the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are for “domestic consumption,” accusing him of “making some moves in the region that are not in his favor.”

Netanyahu responded to a message from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday by threatening Hezbollah during Israel’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said: “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel, we will deal a crushing military blow on Lebanon. But unlike Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans. It would be enough to recall that, for years, Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, and we demolished them within a few days.”