JOHANNESBURG (Dispatches) -- South Africa’s state security agency has said it had found no evidence that Iran was plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to Pretoria, Lana Marks.
A U.S. media report, quoting unnamed officials, earlier this week claimed that Iran was planning to kill the U.S. ambassador to South Africa ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
"At present, the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa,” State Security Agency spokesman Mava Scott said in a statement.
"Such plots of assassination against diplomats are viewed in a very serious light and Her Excellency, Ambassador Marks has been assured of our commitment in this regard.”
South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor said Friday her country is "as surprised as its Iranian friends” after learning about the U.S. report.
"It’s been a very strange public statement and of course our friends in Iran are as surprised as we were,” Pandor said in an interview with SABC News, the full version of which was to be broadcasted later Friday.
"I find it surprising, why would Iran being a very good friend of South Africa come and commit a horrendous act in a country which has been a good friend to Iran, and of such a nature?” she added. "I can only describe it as bizarre and let me stop there.”
On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry denied the report as "baseless” and part of "repetitive and rotten methods to create an anti-Iranian atmosphere”.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have been tense ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. They have deteriorated sharply since Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and reimposed the most aggressive sanctions ever.