Egypt says Iran cancels Suez plans

Feb. 17, 2011 at 7:31 AM
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CAIRO, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Iran canceled plans to dispatch two warships through the Suez Canal despite initial reports claiming they were heading to the area, an Egyptian official said.

An Egyptian official from the Suez Canal Authority, said Iran canceled two scheduled trips through the Canal Thursday, Fox News reported.

Responding to earlier reports that two Iranian warships were heading towards the Suez Canal en route to Syria, another official claimed that no request for passage had been received.

"For warships to pass through the canal, approval from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is needed and this applies to all warships owned by any country," The Daily Telegraph quoted Ahmed el Manakhly, a member of the Suez Canal Board, saying.

Countries must apply 48 hours in advance, he said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the Iranian actions a "provocation that proves the overconfidence of the Iranians is growing from day to day," The Jerusalem Post quoted him saying at a Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem Wednesday.

Lieberman said the international world is not doing enough to confront Iran's provocations and said he expected the world to "put the Iranians in their place."

Israel is monitoring the warships but does not plan to change the navy's operational deployment despite their presence, Israeli defense officials told The Post.

Iranian navy commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari told the Fars news agency earlier this month his country intends to maintain a powerful and permanent presence in a bid to protect the interests of Iran in the "strategic waters north of the Indian Ocean."

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