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Iranian foreign minister admits to involvement in Saudi ambassador assassination plot

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An Iranian source told Al Arabiya that Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed the involvement of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in the assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir.

According to the source, which is close to Gholam Hussein Elham, former spokesman of the Iranian government and dissident from Ahmadinejad’s regime, Salehi recently met with Mohammed Nahavandian, former assistant at the National Security Council and the current president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In the meeting, both discussed several political and economic issues in addition to the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador. It was then that Salehi admitted to the Revolutionary Guard’s involvement in it.

“This is true. The plot was about to be carried out. It is not a figment of the American authorities’ imagination,” Salehi was quoted by the source as saying.

Salehi is known for his close ties with Ayatollah Mohammed-Ali Taskhiri, an Iraqi with Iranian origins.

Nahavandian, a fundamentalist, is close to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, and is not on good terms with Ahmadinejad.

The United States on Tuesday dismissed as “a rant” an Iranian letter to Washington over allegations of an Iranian plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

“We did receive a lengthy diplomatic note from the Swiss protecting power on behalf of the Iranians,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said after Washington received the letter from Swiss intermediaries.

In the absence of U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations for more than three decades, Switzerland acts on behalf of U.S. interests in Tehran.

“It was about seven pages. It was a rant. It was full of all kinds of denials. There was not a lot new in there from our perspective,” Nuland told reporters.

In Tehran, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that Iran had sent a letter to the United States seeking an “official apology of the Americans in protest of this made-up scenario.”

“Instead of pursuing this scenario and the wrong path of foreign policy in which they are moving, Americans had better move to correct this path,” Mehmanparast told reporters, as quoted by IRNA, the country’s official news agency.

“A letter has been sent [to the United States] ... It is our right to seek the official apology of the Americans in protest of this made-up scenario, as these allegations are not true at all,” he said.

Tehran has strongly denied any involvement in what the U.S. says was a plot by the Quds force to kill the Saudi envoy by hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million.

An Iranian-American, Manssor Arbabsiar, who is 56, was accused of being the central figure in the alleged plot; he pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in a New York court.

Iranian officials said the accusations were an attempt by Washington to divert attention from its domestic economic woes and foreign policy failures in the Middle East.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)