UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Monday (Jan 4) strongly condemned an attack on the Saudi embassy in Teheran by protesters angry over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric, as the crisis between the two regional rivals deepened.
The statement by the 15-member council made no mention of the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and called on Iran to protect diplomatic personnel and property.
Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Teheran and the consulate in Mashhad.
“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Teheran, and its Consulate General in Mashhad in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which resulted in intrusions into the diplomatic and consular premises, causing serious damage,” said the council statement.
Expressing “deep concern” over the attacks, the council “called on the Iranian authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel, and to respect fully their international obligations in this regard.”
Council members urged the sides to “maintain dialogue and take steps to reduce tensions in the region.”
Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi had earlier urged the council to “take all appropriate measures to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic facilities and the protection of all Saudi diplomats in Iran.”
Riyadh also defended the execution of 47 men including Nimr, saying in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that they were “granted fair and just trials without any consideration to their intellectual, racial or sectarian affiliation.”
International fears were growing that the Saudi-Iranian rift would derail peace efforts in Syria and Yemen and two UN envoys were dispatched to Riyadh to keep diplomatic gains afloat.
At Russia’s request, the council on Tuesday will discuss the conflict in Yemen after the Saudi-led coalition ended a ceasefire with Iran-backed rebels in the country.
Following angry exchanges over Saudi Arabia’s execution on Saturday of the Shi'ite cleric, Riyadh and then Bahrain and Sudan severed relations with Teheran, the main Shi'ite power.
European countries and regional power Turkey voiced concerns over the row, while US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Iranian and Saudi counterparts and Moscow offered to act as an intermediary.