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Iran Denies It Is Supporting Yemeni Rebels


Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has denied that Tehran is supporting rebel groups in Yemen and said his country is seeking stability in the whole region.

Yemen said last month it had seized a vessel carrying weapons destined for the rebels of the Zaidi Shi'ite sect and detained its Iranian crew at a port in Haja province bordering the area of conflict.

Asked at a conference about the Yemeni reports of Iranian involvement, Mottaki said: "A country which seeks a role to establish peace and stability in all countries in the region...cannot have a role in creating tensions."

"We strongly warn that financial and arms support of the radical groups and also a suppressive attitude toward the people would have improper consequences," Mottaki added.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said Iranian religious figures provide funding for the rebels, and officials have also accused Iranian media of backing them.

Iran, a Muslim Shi'ite state, has denied the allegations and called on Yemen's government to end the fighting through negotiations.

Yemen, which is mostly Sunni Muslim, is battling Al-Qaeda militants and secessionist discontent in the south, as well as the rebellion in the north that borders Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Iran's Arabic language television channel Al-Alam quoted "informed Iranian sources" as saying that no Iranian vessel delivering weapons to the Yemeni rebels had been stopped, and describing the story as a "media fabrication."
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