The Latest: Saudi Arabia says it shot down Yemen drone
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions between the U.S. and Iran and in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
Saudi Arabia says it has shot down a drone launched into the kingdom by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.
Military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki announced the shootdown of the drone Tuesday night near the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait.
Al-Maliki criticized the Houthis for targeting civilian areas with their bomb-laden drones. A Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015 has been criticized internationally for its airstrikes in Yemen killing civilians.
The Houthi drone attacks have picked up amid tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the Persian Gulf as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers unravels.
A Yemen drone attack Sunday night on an airport in Abha, which has been struck repeatedly by the Houthis in recent days, killed one person and wounded seven.
President Donald Trump says Iran still takes his threats seriously even after he decided against approving strikes in retaliation for Tehran’s downing of a more than $100 million American surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that when the Iranians are ready to talk, they will contact him.
Iran, however, warned earlier Tuesday that new U.S. sanctions targeting its supreme leader and other top officials meant “closing the doors of diplomacy” between Tehran and Washington amid the heightened tensions.
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that an Iranian attack on any U.S. interest will be met with “great and overwhelming force ... overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has spoken by phone with his Iranian counterpart in what his office says is an effort to avoid a “dangerous escalation” of tensions in the Persian Gulf.
The French leader spoke on Tuesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but his office didn’t provide details of the conversation.
Macron will be joining other world leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, which starts Friday. High on the list will be discussing Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal and the buildup of U.S. forces in the region.
Macron said on Monday that he’ll meet with President Donald Trump at the summit.
France has said U.S. calls for building a coalition to counter Iran are “disturbing,” as European powers are trying to save the deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is hopeful that a peace agreement to bring an end to 17 years of war in Afghanistan can be reached before Sept. 1.
Pompeo was in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday to meet the country’s leaders. The war there is America’s longest running.
“I hope we have a peace deal before Sept. 1 that’s certainly our mission set,” Pompeo told reporters in Kabul on Tuesday before leaving for Delhi.
Pompeo is on a tour of the Middle East and Asia in an effort to build a broad, global coalition to pressure Iran that includes Asian and European countries.
Pompeo’s visit to Afghanistan comes just days before the next round of U.S. talks with the Taliban in Doha, where they maintain a political office.
President Donald Trump says an Iranian attack on any American interest will be met with “great and overwhelming force” and in some areas, “overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
Trump issued the threat in a tweet Tuesday. It came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation.” Trump called that a “very ignorant and insulting statement.”
The latest verbal volleys between Tehran and Washington followed the U.S. decision on Monday to levy financial sanctions Iran’s supreme leader and his associates.
Rouhani said in a televised address that the decision meant the “certain failure” of the White House pressure campaign against Iran.
Trump says Iranian leaders spend their money on supporting militant groups and don’t care about the Iranian people who are suffering under economic sanctions.
France’s top diplomat has warned Iran that breaking the 2015 nuclear deal is a “grave error,” and the “wrong answer” to pressure from the United States.
Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also called the U.S. initiative to build a global coalition to counter Iran “disturbing.”
He said European diplomats are working to avoid further escalation of the tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom and other European countries are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal, which the U.S. pulled out of.
Iran has said it will break out of the deal’s limit on its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, following the re-imposition of heavy U.S. sanctions.
France has reiterated its call for de-escalation and dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, as world leaders prepare for the Group of 20 summit.
Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said French diplomats had several high-level contacts in the past weeks with Iranian and American officials looking for ways to ease the tensions.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron will meet with President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Japan that starts Friday.
So far, France hasn’t commented on U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meetings with Gulf Arab allies about building a global coalition to counter Iran.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton says “the United States would very much like to get rid of foreign forces from Syria,” an apparent reference to Iranian troops there.
Bolton’s comments Tuesday at a press conference in Jerusalem came after his Russian counterpart urged the United States and Israel to show “restraint” toward Iran.
The high-profile trilateral security summit focused on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, particularly in neighboring Syria.
Differences between the sides quickly emerged. Israel has long called for Iranian forces to be removed from its northern front and Bolton says the Iranian forces are “a problem in Syria.”
The Russian envoy, Nikolai Patrushev, responded by saying that Iran had fought against terrorists on Syria’s soil and was “stabilizing the situation” there.
The summit comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
Russia’s national security adviser says Russian intelligence has determined that Iran shot down an American drone last week over Iranian airspace.
Nikolai Patrushev’s assessment contradicts U.S. claims that the aircraft was downed in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
Patrushev spoke to reporters after a three-way meeting with his Russian and Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem. He said Iran has not briefed Russia about the incident but that the Russian Defense Ministry has concluded the drone had entered Iranian airspace.
He says: “We have not seen any proof otherwise.”
President Donald Trump called off a planned U.S. reprisal in response to the shoot-down just minutes before it was to take place but has imposed new sanctions on Iran.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton says “all options remain on the table” if Iran exceeds the uranium enrichment limit under the 2015 deal.
Bolton spoke at a press conference after a high-profile trilateral security summit in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
He was responding to a question about whether a military strike was still an option if Iran crosses the 300-kilogram stockpile threshold outlined in the atomic accord. Bolton says it would be “a very serious mistake for Iran to ignore those limits.”
Iran says it will possess over 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, in violation of the deal. Europe separately faces a July 7 deadline imposed by Tehran to offer a better deal or Iran will begin enriching its uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.
Bolton, a longtime Iran hawk, says it “should give up their pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons.”
Russia’s national security adviser has rebuffed U.S. and Israeli attempts to isolate Iran and is urging both countries to show “restraint” toward the Islamic Republic.
Nikolai Patrushev spoke at a three-way meeting Tuesday with his Israeli and American counterparts in Jerusalem. He says attempts to present Iran “as the main threat to regional security” or to equate it to international terrorist groups are “not acceptable.”
He added that “Iran is contributing a lot to fighting terrorists on the Syrian soil and stabilizing the situation there.”
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, earlier called for the three countries to agree on expelling foreign forces from neighboring Syria. He says Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence there.
Patrushev called on Israel and the U.S. to encourage a political settlement in Syria.
Iran’s president is mocking President Donald Trump, going so far as to say that the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation.”
The comments by Hassan Rouhani came after the Trump administration sanctioned Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday.
Rouhani said the decision meant the “certain failure” of the White House’s efforts. He also criticized U.S. officials for wanting to sanction Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Rouhani spoke live in a televised address on Tuesday.
Iran’s president says the new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and others are “outrageous and idiotic.”
The comments by Hassan Rouhani come a day after the Trump administration sanctioned Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates.
Rouhani says the decision meant the “certain failure” of the White House’s efforts. He spoke in a live television address on Tuesday.
Rouhani also criticized U.S. officials for wanting to sanction Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
An exasperated Rouhani said: “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel, the United States and Russia have a common objective to remove Iranian forces from Syria.
Netanyahu says that doing so will “create a more stable Middle East.” He spoke at a meeting of the three countries’ national security advisers on Tuesday.
Iran and Russia have played a key role in backing Syrian President Bashar Assad and helping him overcome rebel forces in his country’s civil war. Netanyahu has long warned that Iran now looks to leverage that influence into establishing a military foothold along Israel’s northern front.
The three-way summit in Jerusalem with the American and Russian officials was expected to focus on Iranian involvement in conflicts across the region, particularly in neighboring Syria.
It comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton says President Donald Trump is open to real negotiations and “all that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door”
Bolton spoke at a high-profile trilateral security summit in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
He says American envoys are surging across the region in hopes of finding a path out of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran but that the silence of the Islamic Republic has been “deafening.”
Bolton says: “There is simply no evidence that Iran has made the strategic decision to renounce nuclear weapons.”
His comments alongside his Israeli and Russian counterparts come after Iran slammed the Trump administration over new U.S. sanctions targeting its supreme leader. Iran’s Foreign Ministry says the measures spell a “permanent closure” to diplomacy between the U.S and Iran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says the new U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader and other top officials mean the “permanent closure” of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
That’s according to a report carried by the state-run IRNA news agency on Tuesday, quoting the spokesman, Abbas Mousavi.
Mousavi says the “fruitless sanction on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy mean the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy with the frustrated U.S. administration.”
Trump enacted new sanctions Monday targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. U.S. officials also say they plan sanctions against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
This comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over its unraveling nuclear deal and as Iran last week shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone.