UAE won't be `baited into crisis' with Iran as tensions mount

April FrancisMay 18, 2019

India also signed term import contracts with two USA suppliers, Singh said.

Saudi Arabia has reopened a key oil pipeline, an official said Thursday, after it was shut down by drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels.

The ministry said 41 people, including two women of Russian nationality, were also wounded.

"Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia", an FO statement said.

The United Arab Emirates warned the Western-backed coalition, of which it is a main member, would "retaliate hard" for any Houthi attacks on coalition targets.

Mr Trump is sending an aircraft carrier group, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East to counter what the United States calls a heightened threat from Iran to U.S. soldiers and interests in the region.

On Wednesday, the United States ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, northern Iraq, after accusing the Islamic republic of planning "imminent" attacks in the region.

US officials believe Iran encouraged the Houthis or Iraq-based Shi'ite militias to carry out the attack, two USA government sources have said.

Tehran has called the US military presence "a target" rather than a threat, and said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

Last week, USA officials said they had detected signs of Iranian preparations for potential attacks on US forces and interests in the Middle East, but Washington has not publicly provided any evidence to back up claims of an increased Iranian threat. Gen. Chris Ghika's comments exposed global skepticism over the American military buildup.

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Iran and the USA have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The United States, which imposed new sanctions on Iran in November, initially gave Indian and seven other buyers a six-month waiver to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil.

Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists say the time needed to reach the 90 percent threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20%.

However, he also said the UAE is "very committed to de-escalation" after the alleged sabotage of oil tankers off the country's coast on Sunday. Still, Gargash was quick to dismiss an anonymous United States official's claim blaming Iran for the ships' sabotage, saying the UAE is closer to the investigation.

The attack came a day after four commercial vessels, including two Saudi carriers, had been targeted off the UAE coast. It did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, the Qatar-funded satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera said Qatar is trying to "defuse escalating tensions".

At the same time, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir wrote on his official Twitter page that "the Houthis are an indivisible part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and subject to the IRGC's orders".

Qatar hosts the forward headquarters of the USA military's Central Command at its vast Al-Udeid Air Base.

Asked by reporters if Washington was going to war with Tehran, Trump responded "hope not" as he greeted Maurer at the White House.

Qatar has grown closer to Iran diplomatically over the past two years after four Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, cut ties to protest its regional policies.

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