Bolton warns Iran against disrupting Bahrain conference

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks during a trilateral summit between the US, Israel and Russia in Jerusalem on Tuesday. — AFP

JERUSALEM — US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran on Tuesday not to disrupt a Bahrain conference on Middle East peace, amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran.

"Iran has engaged over the past couple of months in a long series of unprovoked and unjustifiable attacks," Bolton said.

"In that kind of environment, threatening the conference in Bahrain is always a possibility," he said during a visit to Jerusalem.

"It would be a big mistake for Iran to continue this kind of behavior," he added.

Tehran last week shot down a US spy aircraft which it says entered Iranian territory, a claim denied by Washington.

The US has also accused the Islamic republic of involvement in a series of attacks on Gulf shipping, accusations Iran refutes.

Bolton was responding to a journalist's question about possible Iranian interference in the Manama meeting, but no evidence has come to light that Tehran is planning to disrupt it.

The United States on Tuesday launches a conference in Manama unveiling the economic aspects of a broader plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The "Peace to Prosperity" package offers the prospect of $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries over 10 years.

But the Palestinian Authority and its rival Hamas have both denounced the initiative, saying it amounts to a bid by the unabashedly pro-Israel US administration to buy them off in return for them dropping their quest for full statehood.

"I think it's a mistake for the Palestinians to boycott it," Bolton said on Tuesday, "The thing that makes it unique is the economic aspect of it."

"The prospects for Palestinians, for Israelis, for everybody in the region — if we could find an acceptable agreement between Israel and the Palestinians — is incredibly bright and rather than re-litigate decades of disputes, think about the future and negotiate on that basis."

"We'll see how it goes," he added. "I think we are optimistic, I think the president's optimistic." — AFP