Saudi calls for urgent Arab talks over Iranian tensions

Dubai, May 19 

Saudi Arabia has called for emergency regional talks to discuss mounting Gulf tensions, saying on Sunday that it does not want war with Iran but is ready to defend itself.

It comes days after mysterious sabotage attacks on several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone strikes on a Saudi crude pipeline by Yemen rebels who Riyadh claimed were acting on Iranian orders.

The United States has also deployed an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran.

King Salman invited Gulf leaders and Arab League member states to two emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences”, the kingdom’s official SPA news agency said.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said on Sunday his country does not want to go to war with Iran but would defend itself. Saudi Arabia “does not want a war, is not looking for it and will do everything to prevent it,” he said.

“But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with strength and determination to defend itself and its interests.”

The UAE’s foreign ministry said the current “critical circumstances” require a unified Arab and Gulf stance.

The meetings will be a “significant opportunity for the countries of the region to achieve their aspirations for establishing peace and stability,” it said. According to Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, Riyadh wants to show that the region is behind it.

Four ships including two Saudi oil tankers were damaged in mysterious sabotage attacks last Sunday off the UAE’s Fujairah, near the Strait of Hormuz-a vital maritime route for oil exports which Iran has threatened to close in the event of a war.

That incident was followed by drone strikes claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned rebels on a major Saudi oil pipeline built as an alternative export route if the Strait of Hormuz were to be closed. Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ordering the pipeline attacks. — AFP

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