Iran ‘expresses its regret’ over attacks on Saudi missions

Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy during a demonstration in Tehran January 2, 2016. (Reuters)

Iran sent a letter on Monday to the U.N. Security Council expressing its “regret” over attacks by protesters on Saudi missions in the Islamic republic, vowing to prevent any similar incidents in the future.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran expresses its regret over the referred-to incidents and will spare no efforts in arresting and prosecuting all those who brought them about,” said the letter dated Monday. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will take necessary measures to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.”

Saudi Arabia on Sunday officially severed its ties with Iran, with Bahrain following in its footsteps a day after. The kingdom announced later that it would also cut commercial ties, including flights and travel of Saudi citizens to the Islamic Republic.

Riyadh cut its ties after two of its diplomatic posts were attacked in the capital Tehran and the northeastern city of Mashhad, accusing Tehran of not doing enough to stop protesters from damaging its premises.

However, Iran said in the letter that Tehran took “necessary measures, including the increase in the number of security forces, were taken to prevent any assault against the premises of the Consulate.”

The letter said that around 8,000 “peaceful protesters” had stood in front of the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital but some of them “at around 11:00 p.m.” got out of control.

“Despite the extensive efforts made by the law enforcement authorities, some of them managed to enter the embassy and inflict some damages on the building,” it said. “More than 40 protesters were identified, arrested and handed over to the judicial authorities.”

Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran following Saudi Arabia’s decision to execute Shia religious figure Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 other mostly Sunni convicts on terrorism charges.

Shia minorities across the Middle East have been demonstrating after Nimr’s execution.

Saudi Arabia is adamant Nimr got a fair trial. Many of the men executed had been linked to attacks in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006, blamed on al-Qaeda.

Iran’s foreign ministry said Saudi Arabia was using the attack on its embassy in Tehran as a pretext to fuel tensions..

The statement came after Iran was given a 48-hour deadline to remove its diplomatic mission from Riyadh.

“Iran is committed to providing diplomatic security based on international conventions. But Saudi Arabia, which thrives on tensions, has used this incident as an excuse to fuel the tensions,” Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, said in televised remarks on Monday.


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