The Latest: Top Iranian officials get US visas for UN event
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
Iran says its president and foreign minister have received visas from the United States to attend next week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.
A spokesman at Iran’s mission to the U.N said Thursday that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would arrive in New York on Friday, and President Hassan Rouhani on Monday.
Their visit comes as tension between the U.S. and Iran has risen following the weekend attack on oil installations in Saudi Arabia, which says Iran is behind it.
The Pentagon says the U.S. military is working with Saudi Arabia to find ways to provide more protection for the northern part of the country in the wake of the drone and cruise missile attack on the kingdom’s oil industry.
Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters Thursday that U.S. Central Command is talking with the Saudis about ways to mitigate future attacks. He would not speculate on what types of support could be provided.
Other U.S. officials have said adding Patriot missile batteries could be one option, but no decisions have been made. Ryder says a forensic team from Central Command is still in Saudi Arabia, where it’s been examining debris from the strikes.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman says the department is providing the President Donald Trump with military options for any U.S. response, but no decisions have been made. He says the U.S. has a high level of confidence that officials will be able to accurately determine exactly who launched the attacks.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim Saturday’s attack was in response to the yearslong Saudi-led war there, but U.S. and Saudi officials say it was launched from the north. Iran and Iraq lie to the north across the Persian Gulf, while Yemen is in the south.
A Czech company whose small jet engine is believed to have been used in a cruise missile that attacked a key Saudi Arabian oil installation says it was a low-quality copy, not their genuine product.
Marek Fiala, marketing director PBS Velka Bites, a unit of the PBS Group, said: “We have nothing to do with this case and we feel damaged by the fact that we are linked to it,” in a statement sent Thursday to The Associated Press.
The Czech company says that it believes the engine in the missile “is not a product made in Velka Bites,” the Czech town where the PBS TJ100 engines are manufactured.
Fiala says his assertion is based on the analysis of the photos taken by Saudi Arabian authorities.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed Saturday’s drone and missile attack was in response to the yearslong Saudi-led war there, but Saudi Arabia has alleged that the attack was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
Iran denies being involved.
Fiala says the engine is exported to more than 10 countries but that, “We have never in the past delivered our engines to Yemen, Iran or their allies.”
The United Nations says its panel of experts on Yemen have arrived in Saudi Arabia to investigate an attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities.
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq acknowledged their arrival in a statement to journalists Thursday.
He said the inspectors had “started their mission, undertaken at the invitation of the Saudi authorities.” He did not elaborate.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says it will not join a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
Ahmad al-Sahhaf says Gulf security is the responsibility of Gulf countries. In a statement Thursday, he said Iraq rejects Israel’s participation in the coalition.
The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region. Israeli media quoted an Israeli official in August saying the country had joined the coalition, but the only publicly pledged countries recognized by the U.S. are Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates.
Iraq, which is allied with both Iran and the U.S., has tried to keep a neutral stance amid the tensions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is warning that any U.S. or Saudi military strike on Iran will result in “all-out war.”
Zarif made the comment in an interview published by CNN Thursday.
It comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called an attack on Saudi oil installations an “act of war.”
The U.S. accuses Iran of being behind the attack. Iran denies that.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, saying it is over the yearslong Saudi-led war there that’s killed tens of thousands of people. However, experts told The Associated Press the cruise missiles used in the assault did not have the range to have been launched from Yemen and reach their targets.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to German says his country has not ruled out any options in response to the recent attacks on its oil infrastructure.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Deutschlandfunk radio Thursday it’s not yet clear where the attacks originated but “Iran is definitely behind them.”
Asked whether military retaliation was being considered, he said “everything is on the table.”
He says his country’s ultimate response to the oil attacks would also depend on the international community.
He says the situation could deescalate if Iran can be convinced “something like this is not acceptable.”
France’s top diplomat is expressing doubt at claims by Yemen’s rebel Houthis that they are responsible for recent drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday on CNews television that the claims are “not very credible.” He would not speculate on who was responsible, but reiterated that France sent its own experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate what happened.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia suspect Iran was behind Saturday’s attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oil field.
Le Drian urged Iran to respect its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and “come back to the table” to restore calm in the increasingly tense Persian Gulf region.
He said France is talking to “everyone in the region” as it pushes for a diplomatic solution instead of a new military conflict.
The United Arab Emirates says it has joined a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
The state-run WAM news agency announced the UAE’s decision in a statement Thursday.
It quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to “ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.”
Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.
The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.
The Saudi oil installation attack Saturday has further heightened Mideast tensions.