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Iran Says No Confrontation With US in Gulf - Reports


TEHRAN - Iran on Friday denied there had been any confrontation between its forces and a U.S. ship in the Gulf, Iranian media reported, after a U.S. official said a ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command fired on an Iranian vessel.

Some media suggested that, if there had been an incident, it may have involved a private boat that could have been Iranian.

"There has been no confrontation between Iranian boats and U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf," the state-owned English-language satellite channel Press TV reported on its website, citing a source in Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Other Iranian media echoed that report, including the official IRNA news agency and Iran's state-run Arabic-language channel Al-Alam.

"The (Guards) official said the (Guards') navy is committed to its duty to guard the coastal waters of the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea," Press TV said in a later broadcast report.

"He (the official) said Iranian coastguards are prepared to respond in the strongest manner to any possible attack from a U.S. or British vessel," Press TV added.

The Revolutionary Guards are an ideological arm of Iran's armed forces with a separate command structure to the regular military. One of their duties is guarding vital border areas.

"Even if there was a shooting ... American forces have likely shot at a non-military or fishing boat, and even then one cannot be certain that it was Iranian," Iran's Mehr News Agency reported.

A U.S. defence official earlier said a ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command had fired at least one shot toward an Iranian boat.

Many Iranian and other small craft ply the waters between Iran and Gulf Arab states, many of them smuggling goods into the Islamic Republic.

Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Sami Aboudi

© 2008 Reuters

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