U.S. building coalition after Saudi oil attack, Iran warns against war

By Tuqa Khalid and Aziz El Yaakoubi DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats following a weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Iran has warned U.S. President Donald Trump against being dragged into a war in the Middle East and said it would meet any offensive action with a crushing response

Reuters September 20, 2019 00:07:05 IST
U.S. building coalition after Saudi oil attack, Iran warns against war

US building coalition after Saudi oil attack Iran warns against war

By Tuqa Khalid and Aziz El Yaakoubi

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats following a weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

Iran has warned U.S. President Donald Trump against being dragged into a war in the Middle East and said it would meet any offensive action with a crushing response.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Trump, who has ordered more sanctions on Iran, wants a peaceful solution to the crisis.

He was speaking after talks with Saudi and Emirati leaders over the strike that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Tehran.

Iran denies involvement in the Sept. 14 attack that initially halved Saudi oil output and which Pompeo earlier called an act of war against the world's largest oil exporter.

Pompeo appeared to soften his tone on Thursday after talks with Abu Dhabi's crown prince, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, which is Riyadh's main Arab ally.

"We are here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution. That's my mission, that's what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve and I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it that way," Pompeo told reporters.

He did not provide details about the coalition. The United States has however been trying to create a global maritime security alliance since attacks on oil tankers in Gulf waters, which Washington also blamed on Iran.

Pompeo described his proposed coalition as "an act of diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all out war".

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, told CNN that the Islamic Republic "won't blink" if it has to defend itself against any U.S. or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to "all-out war".

'B TEAM'

Zarif mocked Pompeo, saying he was part of a so-called "B-team", along with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, which is trying to dupe Trump into opting for war.

Pompeo on Wednesday met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has called the assault on oil plants a "test of global will".

Riyadh has displayed what it described as remnants of 25 Iranian drones and missiles used in the strike, saying it was undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression.

Pompeo earlier welcomed an announcement by the UAE that it was joining the maritime coalition, a day after Riyadh said it would too.

Britain and Bahrain previously said they are participating but most European countries have been reluctant to sign up for fear of stoking regional tensions. Iraq said it would not join the mission, and also rejected any Israeli role in it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged all countries in the Gulf to sit down for talks to defuse tensions and said groundless accusations against Iran over the attacks were inflaming tensions, Interfax news agency reported.

    Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is battling a Saudi-led military coalition, claimed responsibility for the assault on two Saudi oil plants, including the world's largest processing facility. U.S. and Saudi officials rejected the claim, saying the attack had not come from the south.

    Kuwait, which said earlier this week it was investigating the detection of a drone over its territory, has put its oil sector on high alert and raised security to the highest level as a precautionary measure.

    Oil prices, which soared following the attack, steadied after Saudi Arabia pledged to restore full oil production by the end of September.

   

U.N. MEETING IN FOCUS

Proof of Iranian responsibility, and evidence that the attack was launched from Iranian territory, could pressure Riyadh and Washington, which want to curb Iranian influence in the region, into a response.

    Pompeo said the attacks would be a major focus of next week's annual U.N. General Assembly meeting and suggested Riyadh could make its case there.

Iran's Zarif accused Pompeo of trying to "dodge a U.S. obligation" to issue visas for Iran's U.N. delegates.

Tehran says the U.S. accusations are part of Washington's "maximum pressure" policy on Iran to force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump exited last year, reimposing sanctions to choke off Iran's oil exports.

Tehran, which has gradually scaled back its nuclear commitments, has rejected any talks unless sanctions are lifted.

"The United States is now using oil as a weapon; oil is not a weapon," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said.

(Reporting by Tuqa Khalid and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Additional reporting by Mahal El Dahan, Nafisa Eltahir, Maher Chmaytelli, Rania El Gamal, Stephen Kalin and Dubai newsroom, Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris, Michelle Martin in Berlin, Julia Payne and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London, Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, John Davison and Mohammed Katfan in Baghdad, Ahmed Tolba and Samar Hassan in Cairo; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Giles Elgood)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.