Iran says U.S.-backed air defense pact with Arabs will raise tensions
Iran's national flag billows in the wind in Tehran, Iran, March 31, 2020. /CFP

Iran's national flag billows in the wind in Tehran, Iran, March 31, 2020. /CFP

Iran's foreign ministry said on Saturday that plans by the United States and Israel for a joint defense pact with Arab states to counter the threat of Iranian drones and missiles would only increase regional tensions.

"The entry of foreigners in the region ... will not create security and stability but is itself the main cause of tension and regional rift," ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said, according to state media.

The United States and Israel are seeking to lay the groundwork for a security alliance with Arab states that would connect air defense systems to combat Iranian drone and missile attacks in the Middle East, sources familiar with the plan said.

Speaking ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's trip next week to the Middle East, which is to start in Israel, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that U.S. officials are discussing ways of integrating air defense capabilities with regional leaders in the face of a threat from Iran.

But Kanaani said, "America raises such issues ... solely with the aim of sowing Iranophobia and division among the countries in the region."

Iran and the U.S. have been engaged in diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, but months long indirect talks between the two countries have faltered. Washington announced fresh sanctions targeting Iranian petroleum and petrochemical sales earlier this week.

(With input from Reuters)

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