Iran rejects Yemen charges of meddling

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Iran on Wednesday rejected Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's accusations it was stoking unrest in his country and urged Sanaa to track down the killers of an Iranian diplomat in Sanaa.

The accusations are "without foundation," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, quoted by ISNA news agency.

Instead, taking an apparent stab at Saudi Arabia, she charged that meddling by "certain countries in the region ... contrary to the interests and security" of Yemen were continuing.

Afkham also urged Sanaa "to arrest and punish those responsible" for Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Assadi's murder in Sanaa last January, and to secure the release of colleague Ahmad Nikbakht kidnapped in July 2013 by suspected al-Qaeda assailants.

The Yemeni president in an interview published Monday renewed his country's longstanding accusation that Iran was backing southern secessionists and Shiite rebels in the north.

He told Shiite-dominated Iran to "keep its hands off Yemen" and to stop backing "armed groups" in the country.

"Unfortunately, Iran still meddles in Yemen whether by supporting the separatist (Southern) Movement or some religious groups in the north," he said.

In recent months, Shiite rebels have clashed sporadically with tribesmen and troops in a bid to spread their control further towards the capital.

"We had asked our Iranian brothers to review their wrong policy towards Yemen, but our demands have so far been fruitless," said Hadi.

Hadi accuses Tehran of trying to derail a Saudi-backed political transition in Sunni-majority Yemen, where a year-long uprising led to the 2012 ouster of former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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