- - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IRAN

Warships ignore warning, enter Mediterranean

CAIRO | Two Iranian naval ships crossed the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. They were on a training mission that Israel calls a provocation.

“They are now in Mediterranean waters,” a canal official said.


The patrol frigate IS Alvand and support ship IS Kharg reportedly are bound for Syria, a destination that would take them near Israeli waters.

The 1,500-ton Alvand is normally armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the 33,000-ton Kharg has a crew of 250 and facilities for up to three helicopters, Iran’s official Fars news agency has said.

Both ships were built in Britain during the 1970s for Iran, which ordered them before the Islamic Revolution.

Neither ship is carrying chemical or nuclear material, Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency has reported.

SAUDI ARABIA

Official: King Abdullah to return Wednesday

RIYADH | Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah will return home on Wednesday from Morocco, where he has been recovering from a back operation, the royal palace said in a statement.

King Abdullah “will, God willing, arrive in Riyadh Wednesday afternoon … following a successful treatment,” said the statement carried by the state news agency SPA.

An official told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that “the king is expected to return Wednesday, and preparations are under way” to greet the monarch.

Another source has said that Saudi state media, especially television channels, have been instructed to begin from Tuesday to broadcast special programs about the king.

The streets of Riyadh already have been decorated with national flags for his return.

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