LONDON (Reuters) – Iran condemned a suicide attack at a pop concert in Manchester that killed 22 people, but in an apparent swipe at Western security cooperation with Gulf Arab states said “artificial alliances” would not eliminate such threats.
“Terrorism will be uprooted only by taking comprehensive measures, and avoiding double standards,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday.
“Artificial alliances would not stop the expansion of cancerous terrorism in the world.”
Monday’s attack at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the English city of Manchester killed at least 22 people and wounded 59.
U.S. President Donald Trump opened an anti-terrorism center in Saudi Arabia during his tour in the region, and accused Iran of being a key source of funding and support for militant groups in the Middle East.
Iran denies the claims and says Saudi Arabia is the real source of funding for Islamist militants.
In a separate comment reflecting heated rhetoric between Tehran and Riyadh, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaei tweeted: “Terrorist explosion in Manchester is the result of Trump’s sword dance with the chief of terrorists.”
Trump and White House officials took part in a ceremonial sword dance in Saudi Arabia on Saturday after signing a $110 billion arms sale with Riyadh, Iran’s arch-rival in the region.
Rezaei is now secretary-general the Expediency Council, a body that mediates in disputes between different parts of the state and is independent from the government.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Editing by William Maclean and John Stonestreet)