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Updated from Wednesday, Feb. 16



) -- Two Iranian warships withdrew their application to pass through the Suez Canal after Israel expressed concerns over the move, a canal official told

The Associated Press

on Thursday.

No reason was given for the decision to withdraw the application to travel through the canal, a move that Israel on Wednesday considered a "provocation" by Tehran.

The Suez Canal in Egypt is one of the world's busiest waterways.

"Tonight, two Iranian warships are meant to pass through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea and reach Syria, something that has not happened in many years," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement Wednesday. "This is a provocation that proves that the self-confidence and insolence of the Iranians is growing from to day to day."

Israel considers Iran's nuclear program a major threat iand has repeatedly called for its elimination. However, the countries haven't taken part in open confrontation over the matter because of their geographical distance,



The canal official told


Thursday it wasn't known if the Iranian vessels intended to pass through the the waterway at a later date.

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The Suez Canal is one of the world's busiest waterways -- about 4.5% of the world's oil production passes through the artery each day. The major navigational route for world trade is located in Egypt, and links the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez, which is an arm of the Red Sea.

The canal has been closed a few times because of wars between Egypt and Israel.

--Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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