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      Iranian Vessels Enter Suez Canal

      An Iranian Navy frigate and accompanying supply vessel reportedly entered Canal at 5:45, Egypt time.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/22/2011, 8:52 AM

      Two Iranian warships have entered the Suez Canal on their way to the Mediterranean Sea, Canal officials said Tuesday. "They entered the canal at 0545 (0345 GMT)," the officials told reporters.

      Iran claimed that the warships were headed to Syria "for training." Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others called the move a "provocation".

      Iran informed Egypt that the vessels - a frigate named Alvand and a supply vessel named the Kharg - have no military equipment, no nuclear materials and no chemicals on board.

      Israel has yet to issue a formal response to the Iranian ships' entry into Suez, but senior sources in Jerusalem told Voice of Israel state-run radio Tuesday that they are "following the developments."

      "Israel knows where the vessels are and is conducting situation assessments with senior American officials," the sources said. "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has discussed the developments with the U.S. Ambassador in Israel, James B. Cunningham." 

      Egypt stated Monday that allowing the ships to pass did not signal a change in its policies, because it was obliged under international law to do so. There has been concern in Israel and elsewhere that the permission for the Iranian ships passage signals a rapprochement between Iran and Egypt, following the revolution against Hosni Mubarak.