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Iran Says Warships Will Make Suez Passage

Iranian state media say Iran is sending two warships through the Suez Canal.

Iran's Press TV on Thursday quoted an unnamed Iranian navy official as saying Egyptian authorities see "nothing wrong" with the vessels' passage.

The Associated Press quotes Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki as saying Egyptian authorities have received a request to grant the vessels' passage. The news agency also quotes Suez Canal official Ahmed al-Manakhly as saying the Defense Ministry will process the application.

Another official said earlier Thursday that a request for two ships - a frigate and a supply ship - to pass through had been withdrawn. Iran TV contradicted that report but did not specify on Thursday when the voyage will take place.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that Iran was about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years and called it a "provocation." He told American Jewish organization leaders visiting Jerusalem that the Iranian ships were heading toward the Mediterranean and Syria.

Israel views Iran as a threat because of its nuclear program, its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and calls by Iranian leaders for the demise of the Israeli state.

Vessels intending to transit the Suez Canal must give the waterway's authority at least 24-hours notice before entering the canal.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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