Gulf Arab states seek to defuse regional tensions

Gulf Arab states are seeking to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran in a bid to avert a regional conflict after Iran vowed to avenge the killing of a key military commander.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will send in the next two days his younger brother, Deputy Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman, to Washington and London in the next few days to urge restraint, reported the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, citing unnamed sources.

“Prince Khalid will meet in the US with senior officials at the White House and the State and Defence departments,” the sources said.

“The [visit] is part of the kingdom’s bid to make all efforts to achieve calmness and restraint and head off all escalation,” they added.

Saudi Minister of State Adel al-Jubeir called Friday on Twitter for de-escalation of tensions in the region.

“The Kingdom’s statement regarding the events in Iraq stresses the Kingdom’s view of the importance of de-escalation to save the countries of the region and their people from the risks of any escalation,” tweeted Jubeir.

President Donald Trump ordered a US drone to fire a missile at Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, one of the most influential people in Iran’s government, when he was near the Iraqi capital’s international airport.

Trump bluntly warned Iran against taking vengeance, repeating his insistence that US bombing targets could include Iran’s cultural heritage sites.

Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani went to Tehran to call for calm.

He discussed with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani measures to maintain the security and stability of the region, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency.

Oman, which maintains good ties with Iran on Sunday called on the US and Iran to seek dialogue and resort to diplomacy to resolve disagreements.

“The Sultanate follows with great concern the recent regrettable developments, tension and escalation between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Omani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Both sides are invited to opt for the language of dialogue and search for diplomatic means to solve contentious issues in a way that ends conflict in the region,” added the statement.

An Iranian official warned on the state broadcaster that several US military bases and facilities are within reach of Iran’s military.

Major General Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – told CNN that Tehran’s response to the drone strike on Soleimani would be to hit back directly on American military sites.


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