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South Africa says ‘surprised’ by ‘bizarre’ report of Iran plot to kill US envoy

South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor says her country is “as surprised as its Iranian friends” after learning about the American news website Politico’s report of a “plot” by Tehran to assassinate the US envoy to the African nation.

“It’s been a very strange public statement and of course our friends in Iran are as surprised as we were,” Pandor said in an interview with SABC News, the full version of which will be broadcasted on Friday.

“I find it surprising, why would Iran being a very good friend of South Africa come and commit a horrendous act in a country which has been a good friend to Iran, and of such a nature?” she added.

“I can only describe it as bizarre and let me stop there.”

Her comments came after Politico news website claimed Iran had sought to assassinate US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks in retaliation for the January assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Quds Force who was martyred in a US drone attack near the Baghdad International Airport along with his comrades.

The article claimed to be based on US intelligence reports, allegedly seen by a US government official and another official familiar with the documents, stating that Marks had likely been chosen due to her closeness to US President Donald Trump. 

Iran vehemently dismissed the “biased and agenda-driven” report, and advised American officials to stop resorting to hackneyed and outworn methods to create Iranophobic atmosphere on the international arena.

In a Monday statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeid Khatibzadeh said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a responsible member of the international community, has demonstrated its continued adherence to the principles and customs of international diplomacy.”

The spokesman said baseless allegations such as the one published in the Politico are “part of the Trump administration’s counter-intelligence campaign against Iran.”

“The US regime’s resort to anti-Iranian accusations and lies in the run-up to the US presidential election, and at the same time its pressure to abuse UN Security Council mechanisms to increase pressure on the Iranian people, was predictable.”

“Nevertheless, such moves and news fabrications, probably to continue in the future, will certainly remain futile, adding to Washington’s long list of ongoing failures against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khatibzadeh added.

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