AFP: Iran on Wednesday blamed foreign “influence” for Senegal’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic.
TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Wednesday blamed foreign “influence” for Senegal’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic.
Senegal cut ties with Iran over accusations that it delivered weapons to separatist rebels in its restive southern Casamance region where 16 soldiers have been killed since the end of December.
But in a statement published by state media, the Iranian foreign ministry reacted to Senegal’s decision with the “utmost surprise”.
“The recent action by the Senegalese government has no reason and logical justification, and it seems that has been done under the influence of foreign factors,” said the statement on the website of state-run television.
It said a recent visit by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi to Dakar had solved “all ambiguities” while respecting the “internal securities of both sides” and had emphasised a “serious will to elevate ties in all aspects”.
Senegal broke off ties after a cache of Iranian weapons, concealed as building material and intercepted in Nigeria last October, was found to be one of several shipments passing through Gambia and destined for Casamance rebels.
Nigeria reported its find of 13 containers of weapons, including rockets and grenades, shipped from Iran, to the UN Security Council.
Gambia separates Senegal from the southern Casamance which has been plagued by a rebellion by the MFDC since 1982.
According to Dakar, Salehi, then acting foreign minister, met President Abdoulaye Wade on January 19 when he admitted that “Iran has delivered significant batches of weapons to Gambia several times.”
Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme, including a ban on arms sales.
Iran and Senegal had boosted diplomatic and economic relations in recent years.
Since 2008, Iran has been producing cars in a joint Senegalese-Iranian factory whose majority shareholder is Iranian manufacturer Iran Khodro.
Wade has also repeatedly stated his support for Iran’s nuclear programme.