Iran warns the west: ignore us at your peril
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Iran warns the west: ignore us at your peril:
Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran, said: 'They should have invited all the countries of the region, including Syria and Iran, if they want peace. How can you tackle these important issues without having representatives of all countries in the region?'
The Rome conference is to be attended by the US, Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the UN and the World Bank. It is due to publish a statement setting out the broad outlines of a possible deal, including the injection of a muscular international stabilisation force which Hizbullah rejected yesterday. But the mood in Rome was soured last night when an Israeli air strike hit a UN monitoring post in south Lebanon, killing four UN peacekeepers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, immediately demanded that Israel investigate the direct hit that he said was 'apparently deliberate'.
'This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked UN post ... occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,' Mr Annan said. Israel expressed regret, and promised an investigation, but denied it had targeted the post.
Fears that the conflict could spread across the region intensified yesterday. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a normally placid US ally, warned that 'if the option of peace fails as a result of Israeli arrogance, then the only option remaining will be war, and God alone knows what the region would witness in a conflict that would spare no one'.