US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, saying it was an effort by Tehran to raise the global price of oil, Reuters reports.
“These were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil throughout the world,” Pompeo told reporters shortly before leaving on a trip to Europe.
He suggested he had seen evidence of Iran’s involvement cited earlier on Thursday by White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Speaking in London, Bolton said evidence that Iran was behind the attacks would be presented to the United Nations Security Council next week.
Asked if he had seen the evidence, Pompeo said: “Oh yes. Ambassador Bolton got it right.”
Arab leaders are meeting in the Saudi city of Mecca to discuss drone strikes on oil installations in Saudi Arabia and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.
Tehran has denied involvement.
US envoy to Iran Brian Hook on Thursday warned that the United States will respond with military force if its interests are attacked by Iran.
In Mecca, Saudi Arabia’s king said decisive action was needed to stop Iranian “escalations” in the region following attacks on Gulf oil assets.
A Gulf Arab statement and a separate communique issued after the wider summit both supported the right of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to defend their interests after the attacks on oil pumping stations in the kingdom and tankers off the UAE.
But in a sign of regional tensions, Iraq, which has good ties with neighboring Iran and Washington, said it objected to the Arab communique, which stated that any cooperation with Tehran should be based on “non-interference in other countries”.
“The absence of a firm deterrent stance against Iranian behavior is what led to the escalation we see today,” King Salman told the two late night consecutive meetings.
The ruler of the world’s top crude exporter said Shi’ite Iran’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities and its threatening of world oil supplies posed a risk to regional and global security.
Iraqi President Barham Salih, asking the gathering to support his country’s stability, said that rising tensions with Iran could spark a war if not managed well and voiced hope that Iran’s security would not be targeted.
Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have said they do not want war.
“The kingdom is keen to preserve the stability and security of the region, to spare it the scourge of war and to realize peace and stability,” King Salman said.
Tensions have risen between the US and Iran after US President Donald Trump a year ago withdrew Washington from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, re-imposed sanctions and boosted its military presence in the Gulf.
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