The Latest: Oman, a regional mediator, sends FM to Iran
The Associated Press
May 20, 2019 06:00 AM
ADDS LOCATION – In this Sunday, May 19, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic transports cargo to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Sea.
U.S. Navy via AP
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):
Iran’s foreign minister has met with his visiting counterpart from Oman, a Gulf nation that in the past has served as an intermediary between the United States and the Islamic Republic.
The official IRNA news agency reported the meeting Monday between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oman’s foreign minister, Yusuf bin Alawi. It says they discussed regional and international issues, without providing further details.
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Oman has mediated between Washington and Tehran in the past, including during the early stages of the talks that led to the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The talks some amid heightened tensions in the region, with the U.S. sending warships and bombers to counter alleged, unspecified threats from Iran. The crisis is rooted in President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear accord last year and impose sweeping U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Britain’s foreign secretary is warning Iran not to “underestimate the resolve of the U.S.” amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf.
Jeremy Hunt told journalists in Geneva on Monday that U.S. leaders “are not seeking a conflict, they don’t want a war with Iran, but if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians need to think about very, very carefully.”
Hunt added that Britain has had a lot of discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Iran. He said he hopes Iran starts to “pull back from the destabilizing activities” it conducts in the region.
The foreign secretary acknowledged the danger the tensions posed for the wider Mideast.
Hunt says: “We want the situation to de-escalate because this is a part of the world where things can get triggered accidentally.”
Iran’s foreign minister has criticized President Donald Trump for his overnight tweet threatening to the Islamic Republic with its “official end.”
Mohammad Javad Zarif posted his own message Monday on Twitter, saying Trump had been “goaded” into “genocidal taunts.”
Zarif wrote that Trump “hopes to achieve what Alexander (the Great), Genghis (Khan) & other aggressors failed to do.”
He added: “Iranians have stood tall for a millennia while aggressors all gone.”
He ended his tweet with #neverthreatenaniranian and: “Try respect – it works!”
Two influential Shiite figures in Iraq are warning from pulling their country into a war between the United States and Iran, saying it would turn Iraq into a battlefield and inflict much harm.
Their comments came few hours after a rocket was fired into the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the sprawling U.S. Embassy. No injuries were reported.
Iraq’s populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said in a statement on Monday that any political party that would involve Iraq in a U.S.-Iran war “would be the enemy of the Iraqi people.”
Qais al-Khazali, the leader of an Iranian-backed group, said he is opposed to operations that “give pretexts for war.”
As U.S.-Iran tensions escalate, there’ve been concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle.
A Saudi-owned satellite news channel says Yemen’s Houthi rebels have fired two missiles into the kingdom that later were intercepted.
Al-Arabiya reported on Monday that the two missiles were intercepted over the city of Taif and the Red Sea port city of Jiddah.
The channel cited witnesses for the information. The Saudi government has yet to acknowledge the missile fire, which other Saudi media also reported.
The Houthis made no official claims to the missile fire.
Between the two cities is Mecca, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba that Muslims pray toward five times a day. Many religious pilgrims are now in the city amid the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
President Donald Trump has warned Iran not to threaten the U.S. again or it’ll face its “official end,” shortly after a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad overnight.
The tweet comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the culmination of Trump’s decision a year ago to pull America out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Trump’s tweeted early Monday: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
Trump did not elaborate, nor did the White House. However, the tweet came after a rocket landed less than a mile from the sprawling U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sunday night.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launch.