By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday denied that his country was responsible for increased threats against a U.S. consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra.
“We of course have influence in Iraq but that does not mean we control people in Iraq, as the United States doesn’t control people in countries with whom it has good relations,” Zarif said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
Zarif added that recent warnings issued to the Iranian government by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton were counterproductive. [nL2N1WB21D]
“Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton, instead of making these irrelevant threats that would produce no positive results, need to look at their own policies,” Zarif said.
The United States announced on Friday it will effectively close the consulate following increasing threats from Iran and Iran-backed militia, including rocket fire. [nL2N1WE1XA]
Pompeo, as he explained the move, renewed a warning that the United States would hold Iran directly responsible for any attacks on Americans and U.S. diplomatic facilities.
“I have made clear that Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on Saturday that the consulate closure was “unjustified and unnecessary”, and said Iran condemned any attack on diplomats or diplomatic locations, according to the ministry’s website.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)