The Latest: Pompeo stresses diplomacy in Gulf crisis
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is stressing diplomacy in responding to suspected attacks on oil tankers near a Middle East shipping route and says American officials are reaching out to their foreign counterparts.
Pompeo tells “Fox News Sunday” that intelligence officials have “lots of data, lots of evidence” tying Iran to alleged attacks on two oil tankers traveling near the Strait of Hormuz, a transit route for Arab oil shipments to Asia. He gave no details.
Asked whether the United States might send troops in response, Pompeo notes that it’s China and China’s neighbors — not the U.S. — that could see a significant threat to their energy supplies from any attacks there.
Pompeo says the U.S. will use means “diplomatic and otherwise” to guarantee unhindered shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.
Egypt is strongly condemning two drone attacks by Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, that targeted airports in southwestern Saudi Arabia.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday called the attacks “wanton aggressions.”
The Houthis claimed late Saturday night that they’d attacked airports in the cities of Abha and Jizan. Saudi Arabia said early Sunday that it had shot down one Houthi drone.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming the Houthi rebels, which Tehran denies. Egypt backs the Saudi-led military coalition of mostly Arab states that has been at war against the Houthis in Yemen since 2015.
The attacks come just days after the rebels said they launched a cruise missile that struck the Abha airport. Saudi Arabia said that attack on Wednesday wounded 26 people.
The Norwegian-owned oil tanker Front Altair, which caught fire after being apparently attacked last week in the Gulf of Oman, has arrived off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The ship’s position was some 20 miles off the coast of the Emirati port city of Khorfakkan on Sunday.
The Front Altair caught fire after the attack Thursday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke visible even by satellite from space.
On Saturday, Associated Press journalists saw the crew members of Front Altair after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed at Dubai International Airport.
The U.S. has blamed Iran for what it described as an attack with limpet mines on the two tankers. Tehran rejects the allegation, instead accusing the U.S. under President Donald Trump of pursuing an “Iranophobic” campaign against it.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the kingdom isn’t seeking war in the region, but won’t hesitate to deal with any threats to its people and vital interests.
In his first public remarks since attacks last month on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the powerful Saudi prince accused Iran of using militias to destabilize the region.
He said the attacks days earlier on vessels in the Gulf of Oman, as well as on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia and a civilian airport in the kingdom’s southern city of Abha, “confirm the importance of our demands of the international community to take a decisive stance” against Iran’s behavior.
He made the remarks in an interview published Sunday by the pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they’ve launched a new drone attack against Saudi Arabia. The kingdom says it shot down one Houthi drone.
The Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel announced the attack late Saturday night. Yahia al-Sarie, a Houthi spokesman, said their drones targeted airports in Jizan and Abha in Saudi Arabia.
Early Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it shot down a drone near the Abha regional airport.
A statement from spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki did not address the Houthi claim regarding a drone attack on Jizan.
The Houthis say they launched a cruise missile that struck the Abha airport Wednesday. Saudi Arabia says that attack wounded 26 people.