Iran warships cancel request to transit Suez Canal

Israeli foreign minister called Iran`s plan to send warships a "provocation”.

Cairo: Two Iranian warships withdrew their application to transit the Suez Canal after Israel expressed concerns over the plans, a canal official said on Thursday.

The official said no reason was given for the decision to withdraw the application. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, also said it was not known if the vessels intended to transit the waterway at a later date.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed on Wednesday that Iran was about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years, calling it a "provocation”.

The official identified the two vessels as Alvand, a frigate, and Kharq, a supply ship, and said they were en route to Syria. He said they were now in an area near the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jiddah.

Egypt`s official MENA news agency, however, quoted Ahmed al-Manakhly, a senior Suez Canal official, as denying that the waterway`s management had received any requests by Iranian warships to transit the canal.

Vessels intending to transit the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, must give the waterway`s authority at least 24-hour notice before entering the canal.

Only ships that don`t meet safety requirements are banned from using the canal.

In the case of warships, a clearance from the Egyptian defence and foreign ministries is required in advance, but is rarely withheld.

Bureau Report

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