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US monitoring Iranian warships' Sudan visit
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 31, 2012


The Iranian Kharg 431 supply navy ship is seen docked in the Red Sea Sudanese town of Port Sudan on October 31, 2012. The visit of two Iranian naval ships to Sudan reflects strong ties between the countries, Sudan's military said after Khartoum denied Iranian involvement in weapons manufacturing. Photo courtesy AFP.

The United States said Wednesday it was monitoring a visit by two Iranian warships to a Sudanese port this week, but had no details about it.

The warships left Port Sudan on the Red Sea earlier, an AFP photographer said, after a visit that coincided with Khartoum's denial that Iran is making weapons in Sudan.

Acting US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was "obviously watching that closely."

"We monitor Iran's activities in the region very closely," he added.

Sudan's links to Iran have come under scrutiny after Khartoum accused Israel of sending four radar-evading aircraft to strike the Yarmouk military factory in the heart of the capital Khartoum at midnight on October 23.

The factory compound exploded and burst into flames, and speculation followed that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured there.

The United States was "aware of an explosion," Toner said, but added that Washington had no more details of what the incident entailed and how it was caused.

Turning to the visiting Iranian warships, he added: "It's hard for us to know what the details are of this visit right now... Certainly we would be concerned, but we don't have any more details."

Sudan's army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told the official SUNA news agency on Tuesday that the Iranian ship visit "will support strong political, security and diplomatic relations between the two states."

Saad said the port call was a chance for Sudanese naval personnel "to see advanced weapons and advanced ships."

Iran's Press TV reported that the two vessels had arrived on Monday. They had been sent to the Djibouti area in September "to convey Iran's message of peace to the regional countries and maintain the security of shipping corridors against maritime terrorism," Press TV said.

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