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Iranian warships' passage postponed

[ 2011-02-22 10:58]     字号 [] [] []  
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The passage of two Iranian naval vessels through the Suez Canal has been delayed by 48 hours, a canal official said on Sunday, partly due to heavy pressure from Israel and its allies.

The Iranian frigate and supply ship had been due to enter the canal with the northbound convoy that moves daily at 6 am on Monday.

The passage through the canal would be a first for Iranian naval vessels since the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution. Israel, Iran's long-time foe, said it takes a "grave view" of the crossings.

Zhang Xiaodong, deputy chief of the Chinese Association for Middle East Studies, said the postponement of the passage by Suez Canal administrators means that "Egypt has been under pressure on its decision".

The Associated Press said that the request by the Iranians to send the ships through Suez is a test of the foreign policy intentions of Egypt's new military rulers, the gatekeepers of the canal.

Mubarak, who was toppled on Feb 11 by a popular uprising in Egypt, had been an ally of Israel and the United States during his 30 years in office.

But Zhang disagreed, saying that Egypt appeared to have no other choice because an international convention regulating shipping says the canal must be open "to every vessel of commerce or of war".

On Sunday, the frigate Alvand and the supply ship Kharq, heading for a training mission in Syria, a close ally of Iran and an arch foe of Israel, were still near the southern entrance of the canal.

The canal linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean enables ships to avoid a lengthy sail around Africa.

A senior Iranian naval commander told an Iranian news agency that the mission was to gather intelligence on the region and train naval cadets to protect Iranian cargo ships and oil tankers against attacks by Somali pirates.

Analysts said Iran is trying to enlarge its power in the unstable region and testing the nerve of Israel amid regional instability.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Iranian warships' passage postponed

About the broadcaster:

Iranian warships' passage postponed

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.