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US urges UN council to focus on 'chief culprit' Iran

© AFP/File | US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at the UN headquarters in New York on April 7, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

The United States on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to devote less attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and make Iran's "incredibly destructive" activities a priority in the Middle East.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley branded Iran the "chief culprit" of conflicts in the Middle East and vowed to work with Washington's partners to demand Iran comply with UN resolutions.

Haley cited Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, weapons supplies to Huthi rebels in Yemen, training of Shiite militias in Iraq and the presence of the Tehran-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon as destabilizing.

"The Israel-Palestinian issue is an important one, deserving of attention. But that is one issue that surely has no lack of attention around here," Haley told the monthly council meeting on the Middle East.

"The incredibly destructive nature of Iranian and Hezbollah activities throughout the Middle East demands much more of our attention."

"It should become this council?s priority in the region."

Haley's remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson branded the Iran nuclear deal a failure and two days after President Donald Trump ordered a review of the lifting of sanctions under the agreement.

The council holds a monthly meeting on the Middle East and the Palestinian question. Haley has repeatedly accused the top UN body of being biased against Israel.

Describing the monthly meetings as "Israel-bashing sessions," Haley said the debates "do nothing" to address differences but were instead pushing Israel and the Palestinians further part.

Trump's administration has fiercely criticized the government of ex-president Barack Obama for refusing in December to use its UN veto to block a resolution demanding Israel halt expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A vocal supporter of Israel, Haley has branded the resolution, which was adopted after the United States abstained, a "terrible mistake."

© 2017 AFP