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Saudi, Qatar offer Iran any help needed in Raisi helicopter search

By AFP

May 19, 2024 11:49 PM


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Saudi Arabia on Sunday voiced "great concern" after Iranian state media reported that a helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi had gone missing, and offered to help with the response.

"We affirm that the Kingdom stands by the sisterly Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances and its readiness to provide any assistance that the Iranian agencies need," the foreign ministry of the Gulf kingdom, a longtime rival of Iran, said in a statement.

Iranian search and rescue teams were scouring a fog-shrouded mountainside as Iranian state media said "an accident happened to the helicopter" transporting Raisi, a 63-year-old ultraconservative.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Qatar expressed its "deep concern" over the helicopter carrying Iran's president and foreign minister and offered "to provide all forms of support in the search".

The Gulf state's foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari gave "Qatar's wishes for the safety of the president, the foreign minister, and their companions", the statement added.

Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia have long been on opposing sides of regional conflicts, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

In 2016 bilateral ties were severed after attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran during protests over Riyadh's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

But in March 2023 the Middle East heavyweights announced a surprise rapprochement brokered by China, and they have been in relatively frequent contact in recent months as they worked to contain the war triggered in Gaza by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel.

That diplomatic outreach included the first phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler, and Raisi -- just five days after the war broke out -- and a visit by Raisi to Riyadh in November for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Azerbaijan, Armenia offer to help

Azerbaijan and Armenia  offered help with rescue efforts to locate Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi.

"The Republic of Azerbaijan stands ready to offer any assistance needed," he added.

Armenia's foreign ministry said Yerevan was "shocked by the news coming from Iran".

"As rescue operations continue, Armenia, as a close and friendly neighbor of Iran, is ready to provide all necessary support," the ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

Search and rescue teams were headed to the remote mountain area, Iranian state media said, adding that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also aboard the helicopter.

Turkey's Erdogan offers Iran 'all necessary support' in Raisi search

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was "profoundly saddened" at the news of the helicopter accident involving Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, and offered "all necessary support" to the search.

"We are following the incident closely, are in contact and coordination with the Iranian authorities and we are ready to provide all necessary support," Erdogan posted on X, formerly Twitter.

A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman told AFP that Iran had requested technical support for its search.

"We are in the process of discussing the aid that could be sent over the fastest," he added.

Azerbaijan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the European Union have also offered their help to Iran

 Saudi Arabia on Sunday voiced "great concern" and offered to help with the response.

"We affirm that the Kingdom stands by the sisterly Islamic Republic of Iran in these difficult circumstances and its readiness to provide any assistance that the Iranian agencies need," the foreign ministry of the Gulf kingdom, a longtime rival of Iran, said in a statement.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Qatar expressed its "deep concern" over the helicopter carrying Iran's president and foreign minister and offered "to provide all forms of support in the search".

The Gulf state's foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari gave "Qatar's wishes for the safety of the president, the foreign minister, and their companions", the statement added.

Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia have long been on opposing sides of regional conflicts, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.


AFP


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