Iran General NewsUS makes official protest to Iran over ship incident

US makes official protest to Iran over ship incident

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AFP: The United States on Thursday made a formal protest to Tehran over a weekend incident in which Iranian speedboats swarmed around US warships in the Strait of Hormuz, US officials said. WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States on Thursday made a formal protest to Tehran over a weekend incident in which Iranian speedboats swarmed around US warships in the Strait of Hormuz, US officials said.

“We have in fact now prepared and given to the Swiss a diplomatic note formally protesting this incident,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey said, adding he expected the note to be delivered shortly.

Iran and the United States do not have formal diplomatic relations and Switzerland looks after US interests in Tehran via its embassy.

Casey refused to give the details of the US protest, saying: “I would simply just say that it reiterated the points that we have made publicly over the last few days about this incident.”

The Pentagon released a video and audiotape on Tuesday that it said confirmed US charges that Iranian speedboats buzzed around the US ships on Sunday and radioed a threat to blow them up.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the Iranians “behaved in what appeared to be very aggressive manner,” adding that he believed there had been similar incidents last year.

With regards to Iran’s accusations that the United States was using the incident as a propaganda stunt to paint the Islamic republic in a bad light during US President George W. Bush’s current visit to the Middle East, Gates said the facts were clear.

“I think that the most appropriate answer is the one that I heard on television last night from former (US) secretary of defense Bill Cohen. He said ‘are you going to believe me, or your lying eyes?’ That characterizes appropriately the Iranian claim.”

Iran on Thursday released its own video to counter the US charges showing the crew of a speedboat politely contacting an American sailor via radio, asking him to identify the US vessels and state their purpose.

“Coalition warship number 73, this is an Iranian patrol,” the Iranian commander is heard to say in English, asking for the vessel to confirm its number.

“This is coalition warship number 73. I am operating in international waters,” replied the American voice.

State-run Press-TV said the footage had been released by the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological force involved in the incident.

The alleged confrontation has further inflamed tensions between Iran and the United States which are locked in a standoff over Tehran’s controversial nuclear drive.

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