NNA – Iran said Thursday it had coordinated with the United Nations for the docking of an aid ship in Yemen, after calls from the Pentagon for it to divert to a U.N. hub in Djibouti.
The sending of the Iranian ship sparked a war of words with Washington and with Yemen’s exiled government, which said measures would be taken if the vessel entered the country’s waters.
The Pentagon urged the ship to change course and take its aid to a United Nations hub in Djibouti, to allay worries the cargo might be military.
The Iranian military warned against any attempts to stop it, with a senior commander saying a “fire might start” if the ship was prevented from delivering its cargo.
Quoted by the official IRNA news agency, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Thursday that Tehran had taken all the necessary measures for the ship to travel to Yemen.
“The required coordination has been done with relevant authorities in the U.N. for the docking of the ship carrying Iran’s humanitarian aid for Yemen,” he said.
Iranian officials have said the ship carrying 2,500 tons of humanitarian aid is bound for the rebel-held port of Hodeida on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. It left Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Monday night.
“Air delivery of Iranian Red Crescent food and medical aid through Oman and Djibouti are also being conducted,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
Aid agencies have been delivering help to desperate civilians in Yemen after a five-day ceasefire took hold following nearly seven weeks of Saudi-led air strikes against Shiite Huthi rebels.
Sunni Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Shiite power Iran of arming the rebels.
Both Iran and the rebels deny the allegation.
The standoff over the vessel raised the prospect of a potential confrontation between Washington and Tehran in the vital sea lane which links the Gulf and the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean though the Suez Canal. —AFP