Iran minister defines Yemen peace plan details

AP News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2015 11:31 AM
Iran minister defines Yemen peace plan details

MADRID (AP) — Iran's foreign minister called Tuesday for a peace plan for war-torn Yemen that includes humanitarian aid, dialogue and the formation of a broad-based Yemeni government after a proposed cease-fire already rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sanaa.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said no preconditions as to who would run Yemen can be imposed before dialogue begins with the country's different factions, because doing so "will prolong the disaster."

During a visit to Madrid, Zarif did not address Saudi claims that Tehran has been giving the Houthis military support.

Zarif also reiterated Iran's position that sanctions against his country must be removed when a final deal is reached on its nuclear program.

Iran and six powers, including the United States, reached a framework agreement earlier this month to curb Tehran's nuclear activities.

Zarif said a first post-framework meeting on the deal would be held next Tuesday, when experts would meet "to look at the text and start drafting." He did not specify a venue.

American and U.S. officials said Monday that a meeting was likely next week without naming a day or city.

Zarif sought to scotch concerns expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran still intends to develop a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu has harshly criticized the framework deal, saying it would give Iran relief from sanctions while leaving its nuclear program largely intact.

"If (Netanyahu) believes that our nuclear program is an existential threat then he should heave a sigh of relief that everyone is watching this program," Zarif said.

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Associated Press writer Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed to this report.