Tehran rebuffs US’ demands
WASHINGTON / TEHRAN
An Iranian army member (R) points at the US RQ-170 unmanned spy plane as he speaks with another top army official. REUTERS photoThe Obama administration has delivered a formal request to Iran for the return of a U.S. surveillance drone captured by Iranian armed forces, but Iran and its media responded with derision.
Iranian Fars news agency published a news report with the headline “Obama Begs Iran to Give Him Back His Toy Plane.” “U.S. President Obama is hoping that the Iranian government is in a Christmas mood because he has asked Tehran to send him his Christmas present back,” the report said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Obama should apologize for sending an unmanned spy plane rather than asking for it back after it was seized. “It seems that [Obama] has forgotten that our airspace was violated, a spying operation conducted and international law trampled,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, Reuters reported.
Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi also said the United States should apologize for invading Iranian airspace and the drone is now Iran’s property. President Barack Obama said the U.S. wants the top-secret aircraft back. “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said they were not optimistic about getting the drone back because of recent Iranian behavior.
Another drone crashes in the Seychelles
In a live broadcast interview Dec. 12, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said nothing to suggest his country would grant the U.S. request. “The Americans have perhaps decided to give us this spy plane,” Ahmadinejad said on Venezuelan state television. “Very soon, they’re going to learn more about the abilities and possibilities of our country,” he added.
Meanwhile, a U.S. drone aircraft crashed at Seychelles International Airport yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius said. “A U.S. Air Force remote-piloted MQ-9 crashed at the Seychelles International Airport in Mahe.
The MQ-9 was not armed and no injuries were reported,” a statement from the embassy said. Confirming the incident, the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said the plane was on “routine patrol” and crashed because of mechanical failure.
PRINCE MEETS IRAN’S DEPUTY
RIYADH – Agence France-Presse
Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz met with Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi on Dec. 12 at a time of strained relations between their two Gulf states, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Riyadh has accused Tehran of interfering in neighboring Arab states and warned that its nuclear program could pose a threat to regional security. Nayef, who is also the Saudi interior minister, discussed “questions of common interest” with the Iranian official, SPA said, without disclosing details. The Saudi intelligence chief, Mogran bin Abdul Aziz, took part in the meeting, the agency reported.