clearn.png
Monday September 23rd, 2019 7:55AM

Japan premier in Iran as Yemen rebels strike Saudi airport

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe landed Wednesday in Tehran on a mission to ease tensions between the U.S. and Iran, just hours after Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen launched an attack on an airport in Saudi Arabia, wounding 26 people.

Abe's trip is the highest-level effort yet to de-escalate the crisis as Tehran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of last year. It's also the first visit of a sitting Japanese premier in the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution.

But success may prove difficult for Abe, as the Houthi rebel attack on Saudi's Abha regional airport underscored. Separately, the front page of the Iranian daily Farheekhtegan, or Educated, published Wednesday morning a picture of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast — a reference to America's bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

"How Can You Trust A War Criminal, Mr. Abe?" the newspaper asked in dual English and Farsi headlines. Hard-line news outlets in Iran immediately picked up the front page from the paper, published by students of Islamic Azad University, which has campuses across the nation.

Abe's plane landed at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport on Wednesday afternoon where he was greeted by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He was to immediately meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini on Thursday.

Abe landed just hours after the attack in Abha. The Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, said they launched a cruise missile at the Saudi airport while the kingdom said 26 people were hurt.

Though there were no fatalities, it was the largest number of civilians to be injured in Saudi Arabia as a result of an attack by the rebels since the start of the Saudi-led war in Yemen more than four years ago.

The rebels' Al-Masirah satellite news channel said the missile hit its intended target, halting air traffic at the airport in the town of Abha in the kingdom's southwest, some 165 kilometers (100 miles) from the Saudi-Yemen border. The war in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, has killed tens of thousands of civilians, with most of the deaths blamed on Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, and has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

Saudi coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki was quoted on the state-run Al-Ekhabirya news channel as saying three women and two children were among those hurt and that eight people were hospitalized while 18 suffered minor injuries.

At least one Yemeni and one Indian national were among those injured in the attack, which al-Turki said struck the airport's arrivals hall between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

The Houthis have previously used ballistic missiles to target the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the airport there. More recently, they have launched bomb-laden drones targeting a key oil pipeline and the southwest city of Khamis Mushait.

A Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdel-Salam, said Wednesday's attack was in response to Saudi Arabia's "continued aggression and blockade on Yemen." Earlier in the week, he'd said Houthi attacks on Saudi airports were "the best way to break the blockade" of the airport in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, which the Houthis overran in 2014.

Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade level on July 7 if European allies fail to offer new terms for the nuclear deal. While President Donald Trump says he wants to talk to Tehran, the U.S. has piled on sanctions that have seen Iran's currency, the rial, plummet along with Iran's crucial oil exports.

The U.S. also has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region, along with hundreds more troops to back up the tens of thousands already deployed across the Middle East. The U.S. blames Iran for a mysterious attack on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, while Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen continue to launch coordinated drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Japan had once purchased Iranian oil, but it has now stopped doing so over American sanctions.

However, Mideast oil remains crucial to Japan and recent threats from Iran to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes, has raised concerns.

Before boarding his airplane at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Abe acknowledged the challenges ahead.

"There are concerns over rising tension in the Middle East region," he said. "Japan wants to do as much as possible towards peace and stability in the region."

Iran's nuclear deal, agreed to at the time by China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S., saw Tehran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Western powers feared Iran's atomic program could allow it to build nuclear weapons, although Iran long has insisted its program was for peaceful purposes.

In withdrawing from the deal last year, Trump pointed to the accord not limiting Iran's ballistic missile program and not addressing what American officials describe as Tehran's malign influence across the wider Mideast. Those who struck the deal at the time described it as a building block toward further negotiations with Iran, whose Islamic government has had a tense relationship with America since the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and subsequent hostage crisis.

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

___

Batrawy and Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Bahrain condemns Yemen rebel hit on Saudi Arabia
The Latest: Bahrain condemns attack by Yemeni rebels that wounded 26 people at Saudi airport arrivals hall
8:00AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Patriots' Kraft to receive warm welcome in Israel
Israel rolling out red carpet for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is to collect the Genesis Prize next week
7:52AM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: UK urges Hong Kong gov't to listen to protesters
Britain's foreign secretary has appealed for calm in Hong Kong and urged authorities there to listen to the concerns of protesters
7:49AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Ex-FBI leaders to testify on Russian threat, Mueller report
The House Intelligence Committee has invited two former leaders of the FBI's national security branch to testify Wednesday about the counterintelligence implications of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
7:20AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Trump and Biden trade jabs in possible 2020 election preview
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have been verbally attacking each other in a back-and-forth that has laid bare the rising political stakes for each man before the 2020 election
7:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Omani envoy in Iraq for talks on US-Iran tension
The Latest: Iraq's Foreign Ministry says an Omani envoy in Baghdad to discuss ways of de-escalating US-Iran tensions
7:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Japan, Iran FMs meet ahead of Abe's arrival
The Latest: Japanese foreign minister meets Iranian counterpart in Tehran ahead of Shinzo Abe's arrival
5:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
1st defendant faces sentencing in college admissions scandal
Prosecutors plan to seek more than a year in prison for a former Stanford sailing coach who admitted to participating in the sweeping college admissions bribery scheme
5:39AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Yemen rebels target Saudi airport, 26 wounded
The Latest: Saudi-led coalition says 26 people wounded as Yemen's Houthi rebels target airport in kingdom's southwest
5:15AM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Bahrain condemns Yemen rebel hit on Saudi Arabia
The Latest: Bahrain condemns attack by Yemeni rebels that wounded 26 people at Saudi airport arrivals hall
8:00AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Patriots' Kraft to receive warm welcome in Israel
Israel rolling out red carpet for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is to collect the Genesis Prize next week
7:52AM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: UK urges Hong Kong gov't to listen to protesters
Britain's foreign secretary has appealed for calm in Hong Kong and urged authorities there to listen to the concerns of protesters
7:49AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Confusion abounds as Trump's July 4 plans remain a mystery
Trump has said he wants to reshape the Fourth of July into a 'Salute to America' that would feature him speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but nobody in Washington seems to know what this year's celebration will look like
7:48AM ( 25 minutes ago )
5-year-old boy dies of Ebola as Uganda cases rise to 3
5-year-old boy dies of Ebola as Uganda cases rise to 3 after outbreak spreads from Congo
7:43AM ( 30 minutes ago )