Last updated: 12 October, 2011

Iran urges Saudi Arabia to avoid US ‘trap’

Iran on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia “not to fall into the trap” of believing US claims it was behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, which it said served only the United States and Israel.

“I am asking Saudi Arabia not to fall into the trap, because any disturbance in relations between countries in the (Middle East) region will only benefit the United States and the Zionist regime,” said Ali Ahani, Iran’s deputy foreign minister in charge of Europe and America affairs, according to the IRNA news agency.

Ahani was quoted as saying that “we hope that Saudi Arabia will understand the aims of this plot” which he said was mounted by the United States.

Iran’s foreign ministry had already communicated that message on Wednesday to Saudi Arabia through the Saudi ambassador to Tehran, according to an emailed ministry statement sent to media on Thursday.

Iran “categorically rejects the accusations and views them as untrue,” Amir Abdolahian, a deputy foreign minister in charge of Arab and African affairs, told Saudi Ambassador Mohammed bin Abbas Alkilabi, according to the statement.

Abdolahian said the alleged plot was “a poorly crafted scenario” prepared by the United States and Israel and that “even Western countries say it’s a fabrication.”

He urged the Saudi ambassador to Tehran to tell the Saudi government “to be vigilant over this plot,” and criticised official Saudi condemnation of the alleged acts as “hasty and baseless.”

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called the alleged plot “sinful and abhorrent” but stopped short of naming Iran as the culprit. It said it was looking into unspecified “decisive steps” in response.

Ahani, in his comments on Thursday carried by the IRNA news agency, continued to rail against the US allegations.

“This pathetic and conspirational scenario is so clumsy that even American media and political circles are looking at it with doubt,” he said.

“The instigators of this scenario have to say what benefit Tehran could extract from the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States,” he added.

Ahani repeated the message of other Iranian officials that the US accusations were likely an attempt to distract attention from America’s economic woes and foreign policy setbacks in the Middle East.

He also said that the idea that Iran “is reinforcing its role in the region” and was “handling the nuclear issue without problems and that the sanctions aren’t having an effect… certainly pushed (the United States) to use this scenario” to try to weaken Tehran.

Abdullatif al-Zayani, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which represents most of the Arab states lining the Gulf, said the purported involvement of Tehran was “severely harmful to the relations between GCC member states and Iran.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long had frosty relations, as both vie to be the dominant Muslim power in the Middle East.

Tensions rose this year even before the alleged plot as Iran protested against Saudi military involvement in helping put down pro-democracy protests in Shiite Bahrain.