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Egyptian military has not approved transit of 2 Iran ships

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 19, 2011 14:31

Suez Canal Authority official says ships did not enter canal, army could approve crossing for Iranian naval vessels at any point.

Iranian warship IIPA Alborz [file]

iran warship 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

An Egyptian source from the Suez Canal Authority said Saturday that the authority had not yet received the military approval necessary to allow  two Iranian naval vessels to cross the canal north to the Mediterranean, Reuters reported.

The source said that the two ships neither reached the southern entrance of the canal, nor the waiting area. The source added that the approval could be received at any moment.



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State-run news agency MENA had said Friday that authorities in Egypt approved the request to let the navy ships cross, after Iranian diplomats offered assurances that the two ships won't have weapons or nuclear or chemical material.

The move had been widely expected and Iranian officials have insisted the request is in line with international regulations. They said the two vessels are headed to Syria for training.

On Thursday, the two Iranian naval vessels submitted a request to transit the Suez Canal, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said Egyptian authorities received the request to grant the vessels passage, while a Suez Canal official said the Defense Ministry would process the application.

Iran denied claims Thursday that it had canceled plans to send two warships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea, saying that despite various media reports the vessels were on their way to Syria.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first called attention to the Iranian intentions during a speech to the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, terming the move a “provocation” and calling on the world to “put the Iranians in their place.”
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