iran warship 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
CAIRO — Two Iranian naval vessels have submitted a request to transit the Suez Canal, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said Egyptian authorities have received the request to grant the vessels passage, while a Suez Canal official said the Defense Ministry would process the application.
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In Tehran, Iran's official English-language Press TV cited an Iranian naval official saying the two warships are to pass through the canal. The official said Tehran was in contact with Egypt about the ships.
Earlier, a canal official had said the Iranians had withdrawn a request to transit the waterway, without giving an explanation for the application's withdrawal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
Ahmed al-Manakhly, a senior Suez Canal official, said international agreements regulate the traffic through the canal. He said that only in the case of war with Egypt may vessels be denied transit through the waterway.
Al-Manakhly noted that Iran and Egypt are not at war, and said the final decision on whether to grant the vessels' passage lies with the Defense Ministry.
He said he will not allow any warships to transit the canal without approval from the Defense Ministry.
The Suez Canal official identified the two vessels as the Alvand, a frigate, and the Kharq, a supply ship, and said they were en route to Syria.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that Iran was about to send two naval vessels through the Suez Canal for the first time in years, calling it a "provocation."