- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

IRANIAN ‘RANT’

Iran is flailing about over U.S. charges of an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, as both the State Department and the Saudi crown prince dismiss Tehran’s demands for an apology.

Iran’s theocratic regime sent a letter to Washington last week, accusing the United States of violating “international rules and regulations” and insisting on compensation for “material and moral damages,” the Associated Press reported Sunday.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the letter a “rant.”

“It was seven pages. It was a rant. It was full of denials. There was not a lot new in there from our perspective,” she said Tuesday.

In Saudi Arabia, the new crown prince, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, ruled out a proposal from Qatar for a meeting with Iranian officials to discuss the U.S. allegations.

“There can be no compromise with Iran concerning the assassination bid,” he told a news conference in Mecca on Wednesday. “We are ready to deal with any scenario … with any means necessary.”

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani had proposed that Saudi and Iranian officials meet to discuss the accusations. He held talks Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

The United States last month charged a 56-year-old man who holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship with a plot to kill Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in a Washington restaurant.

Prosecutors say that Manssor Arbabsiar conspired with agents linked to Iran’s elite Quds Force to kill Mr. al-Jubeir. The plot also involved an attempt to recruit a hit man from a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination.

Mr. Arbabsiar pleaded not guilty last week in a federal district court in New York.

Despite the threat against him, Mr. al-Jubeir has continued his public diplomatic duties.

On Wednesday, he greeted guests who visited the Saudi Embassy to offer condolences over the death of the previous crown prince, Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, who died in New York on Oct. 22. He reportedly was suffering from colon cancer.

“His contributions can be felt all across the county and, not only in Saudi Arabia, but the Arab world and the Islamic world and the world in general,” said Mr. al-Jubeir.

Sultan’s nephew, Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Tala Bin Abdul Aziz, told the embassy guests that his uncle will be remembered in Washington as a “an ally and a close friend” of the United States.

The visitors who stopped by to sign a book of condolences included former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Jordanian Princess Aisha Bint al-Hussein, according to the Saudi Gazette.

PIPELINE POLITICS

Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer is arguing that a proposed oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas would provide enough energy to free the United States from relying on oil from the anti-American regime in Venezuela.

However, he fears that U.S. environmentalists could block the Keystone XL pipeline, which could deliver 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

“Energy security for the United States, particularly when it’s displacing Venezuelan oil, is a very positive argument,” he told reporters on a visit to the Canadian capital, Ottawa, this week.

Canada is the biggest source of foreign oil for the United States, while Venezuela ranks in the top five of U.S. suppliers.

Mr. Doer expressed his frustration with the opposition to the pipeline that would carry oil extracted from oil sands in Alberta. Opponents have argued that the pipeline could pose environmental risks to underground water supplies.

The pipeline project cleared a major hurdle in August when it passed a State Department environmental study. President Obama has said that he will make the final decision.

“I believe if it’s on merit, it will proceed,” Mr. Doer said. “If it’s on noise, it won’t.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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