Iran’s President May Skip U.N. Meeting, Blaming U.S. Obstacles

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Iran’s president and other officials might not attend a United Nations gathering in New York next week because of obstacles raised by the United States, an Iranian state news outlet reported on Wednesday. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a tense standoff over an attack on Saudi Arabia this past weekend for which American officials have blamed Iran.

The news came as Saudi Arabia prepared to make public, later on Wednesday, what it said was evidence of Iranian responsibility for the multiple airstrikes against oil processing facilities in the kingdom. The attack, using drones and possibly cruise missiles, has temporarily cut Saudi oil processing in half, shaking global markets.

The United States has not granted visas for an Iranian advance team to go to New York to prepare for the annual United Nations General Assembly, according to the outlet, the Islamic Republic News Agency. As a result, it said, President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation might not go to the meeting, which runs from Tuesday through the following Monday.

There was extended speculation this summer about a possible face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting, particularly after President Emmanuel Macron of France said last month that he was trying to arrange such an encounter.

The attack on Saturday was the latest — and potentially the most serious — factor escalating tensions between the two countries, raising fears of military clashes and even outright war.

Iran and its ally, the Houthi rebel faction in Yemen, insist that the Houthis — who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war — carried out the strikes in retaliation for the extensive bombing by Saudi Arabia that has killed thousands of people in Yemen. The Houthis are known to use weapons supplied by Iran, but the attack showed a level of technological sophistication far beyond what the Houthis had demonstrated before.

United States and Saudi officials have said that the weekend attack clearly used Iranian weapons. The Americans have also said that evidence that has not been made public points to a strike launched from Iran, to the north, not from Yemen, to the south.

The Saudi Defense Ministry scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon to present what it called “material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime’s involvement.” It was not clear whether that meant the kind of indirect involvement, through munitions and training, that Iran has had in previous Houthi strikes on Saudi Arabia, or something more direct, like Iranian personnel taking part or the attack’s having been launched from Iran.

Mr. Rouhani sent a formal note on Monday to the United States denying an Iranian role and warning that any American action against Iran would bring retaliation, Iranian state news media reported on Wednesday. The note went through Swiss envoys who act as go-betweens because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia with Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne and the country’s day-to-day ruler, but it was not clear whether there would be any public announcement about the talks. In a statement, the State Department said the two would “discuss the recent attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities and coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region.”

Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday that the United States was “waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”





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