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Saudi Arabia 'doesn't want war' with Iran amid rising tensions

Saudi Arabia has called for urgent meetings of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 May, 2019

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Saudi Arabia has said it does not want to go to war with regional rival Iran but will not hesitate to defend itself amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia has said it does not want to go to war with regional rival Iran but vowed it would not hesitate to defend itself amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Foreign affairs minister Adel al-Jubeir made the comments to reporters a week after four oil tankers were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that," Jubeir said.

"If the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests," he said.

"We want peace and stability in the region, but we won't stand with our hands bound as the Iranians continuously attack. Iran has to understand that," he added.

Fears of armed conflict had already been running high after the United States ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged unexplained threat from Iran.

The current tensions are rooted in Washington's decision last year to withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and impose wide-reaching sanctions, including on Iranian oil exports that are crucial to its economy.

Iran has also said it is not seeking war with the US or its allies in the Gulf.

Jubeir said the UAE was leading the probe into the damaged oil tankers, but added that "we have some indications and we will make the announcements once the investigations are completed".

Riyadh has blamed Tehran for a drone attack last week on a pipeline carried out by Yemen's Houthi rebels, despite denials by the Islamic Republic.

Saudi Arabia has called for urgent meetings of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to discuss escalating tensions.

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