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30 November 2023

Saudi Arabia wants UN vote on assassination plot


Saudi Arabia is pressing for a UN vote Friday on a resolution condemning an alleged plot to assassinate its US envoy and calling on Iran to cooperate with the investigation.

The United States has said Iran was behind the plot to kill Adel al-Jubeir in Washington, but the Saudi resolution, which was distributed at the 193-member UN General Assembly on Wednesday, did not directly accuse Iran of involvement.

The draft resolution, which is backed by the United States, "deplores" the plot and calls on Iran to "comply with all of its obligations under international law."

It says the Tehran government should "cooperate with states to bring to justice all those who participated in the planning, sponsoring, organization and attempted execution of the plot to assassinate the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Saudi UN mission spokesman Abdulmohsen Alyas said many countries would co-sponsor the resolution, but declined to name them.

"Many countries understand our position and they agree with us by co-sponsoring this resolution," Alyas told AFP.

Iran has strongly denied being involved in the alleged plot against the Saudi envoy, possibly through the bombing of a Washington restaurant.

The United States has charged an Iranian-American used car salesman over the plot and said Iranian officials planned to hire a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador.

Iran's UN ambassador, Mohammad Khazaei, called the proposed resolution "dangerous" and "unacceptable" in a letter to UN leader Ban Ki-moon, according to Iranian media.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on Saudi Arabia to delete references to "the recent US scenario" of Iranian involvement in the plot, the state IRNA news agency said.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that the Saudi allegations are "a signal that American policy is falling apart" in the Middle East.

He said the Saudis feared the spread of pro-democracy Arab Spring uprisings to their own country.

"The wave of changes are reaching the Saudi border," Larijani told reporters at the United Nations, where he is due to make the Iranian case at votes on human rights resolutions.

Washington's UN Ambassador Susan Rice called the Saudi resolution "a measured and focused response to the chilling Iran plot."

"I urge my colleagues in the UN General Assembly to support" the resolution, she added.

And State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the United States "welcome Saudi leadership on this (resolution) and on marshaling international recognition and condemnation of ... the threat posed by Iran's actions in this regard."

Meanwhile, the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Saudi authorities have formed a security force to protect Saudi envoys abroad and foreign missions inside Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, the Saudi embassy in Damascus came under attack from demonstrators who broke in. Saudi Arabia was among Arab League members who voted to suspend Syria from the bloc over the crackdown on opposition protests.