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Iran, Senegal resume diplomatic ties: report

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iran and Senegal have resumed diplomatic ties severed two years ago after Dakar accused Tehran of supplying weapons to its separatist rebels, the ISNA news agency reported on Thursday.

"The declaration for the restart of political ties between Iran and Senegal was signed by the two foreign ministers on the sidelines" of the ongoing Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Cairo, ISNA reported citing an official statement.

The statement said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall also discussed bilateral ties, and added that both countries agreed to re-open embassies in their respective capitals as of February 6.

It was not immediately known whether the embassies had resumed operations.

Senegal officially cut diplomatic ties with Iran in February 2011, accusing it of delivering weapons to separatist rebels in its restive southern Casamance region where 16 soldiers were killed by the end of December 2010.

The separatist rebels are known to have bases in Gambia, which cut diplomatic ties with Iran soon after the incident.

In a meeting with former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade in January 2011, Iran's then interim foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi admitted that Tehran had "delivered significant batches of weapons to Gambia several times."

"The consignment seized in October 2010 in Nigeria contained weapons and was also destined for Gambia" Salehi said.

Iran is under various sets of international sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme, including a ban on arms sales imposed by the United Nations.

The West fears Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.

Wade, defeated by Sall in March 2012 presidential election, had repeatedly stated its support for Iran's nuclear programme.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130207/iran-senegal-resume-diplomatic-ties-report