DUBAI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for further talks with Gulf allies about responding to major attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure which he has denounced as an “act of war” by Iran.
And Pompeo arrived in the UAE capital as Iran’s foreign minister warned that any attack on his country over Saturday’s drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry would result in “all-out war,” further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf.
The hardening of the US position raises the risk of a dangerous escalation in the tinderbox region after weekend strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry knocked out half its production.
Pompeo flew to Abu Dhabi from the Saudi city of Jeddah, where he met late Wednesday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler who has said the assault poses a “real test” of global will.
The two sides “agreed that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its continued aggressive, reckless, and threatening behavior,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in statement after their talks.
The “unacceptable and unprecedented attack… not only threatened Saudi Arabian national security, but also endangered the lives of all the American citizens living and working in Saudi Arabia,” she added.
Pompeo denounced the unprecedented strikes as an Iranian “act of war”, as Riyadh Wednesday unveiled new evidence it said showed the assault was “unquestionably” sponsored by Tehran.
The comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif represent the starkest warning offered yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord.
Zarif’s comments also appeared to be in response to Pompeo, who a day earlier while traveling to Saudi Arabia referred to the attack as an “act of war.”
Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a US or Saudi strike, Zarif said: “All-out war.”
“We won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.
Saudi officials displayed what they said were fragments of 25 drones and cruise missiles fired on Saturday at two facilities in the country’s east, engulfing them in flames.
“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” Saudi-led Arab coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki said, but would not be drawn on whether Saudi officials believed Iran would ultimately be found to be the culprit.
(With AFP and Reuters)
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