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U.S. says Iran not behind conflict in Yemen

Source: Mehr News Agency

The United States has announced that it does not believe that Iran is backing a Shiite revolt in northern Yemen.

According to a report posted on IslamOnline website, the U.S. has also warned against attempts to portray the situation as a sectarian conflict.

"Many of our friends and partners have talked to us about the possibility of outside support to the Houthis," U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told a regional security conference in Manama late Friday.

"We have heard the theories about Iranian support to the Houthis.

"To be frank, we don't have independent information about this," he said.

The Yemeni government has been fighting Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, in the northern province of Saada since 2004.

Iran has called the fighting in Yemen "fratricide" which must be stopped immediately.

U.S. and Arab officials warned against seeking to portray the fighting as a sectarian conflict.

"People seem to be finding reasons to widen the conflict when it is in all our collective interest to narrow it," Feltman said.

The U.S. diplomat called on all parties to keep the issue contained to Yemen.

"I think it's dangerous to exaggerate the (Sunni-Shiite) divisions."

Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa echoed a similar call.

"It is obvious that this is being portrayed as a Sunni-Shiite conflict," Sheikh Khalid said, reported the Gulf News.

The top Bahraini diplomat said poverty and lack of resources and development were at the root causes of the conflict.

He underlined the need for a change in thinking and an approach that focused less on the differences between sects.

"It is the same with Iraq - with the Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds - and in other countries," he said.

... Payvand News - 12/13/09 ... --

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