EFERiyadh

The Saudi Arabian foreign minister said Sunday that his country is not seeking to start a war with Iran but is ready to defend itself from any threat, following recent attacks in the Gulf region.

Adel al-Jubeir said in a news conference that the kingdom’s “hands are always extended to peace and seeks to achieve it, and believes that the peoples of the region, including the Iranian people, have the right to live in security and stability and to move towards development.”

"The Iranian regime has directly and through its proxies sought to provoke unrest and supported terrorist and extremist groups and organizations.

"Over the past decades, the countries of the region have suffered from the crimes of the Iranian regime and its interventions which are too numerous to count," he added.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said two oil pumping stations in Riyadh were targeted by explosive-laden airborne drones and blamed the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen for the assault.

Last week, the United Arab Emirates said that four commercial vessels, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were sabotaged off its coast.

These incidents came amid growing tension in the region between Iran and the United States.

The US said earlier this month it was sending the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class, and the USS Arlington amphibious warship, as well as a Patriot missile defense battery and bombers, to the Middle East.

Al-Jubeir said that the “problems in the region began since the arrival of the Iranian regime in 1979, whose constitution is based on exporting revolution and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a distress call from an Iranian oil vessel in the Red Sea and immediately provided the necessary assistance to the vessel and its crew,” the Saudi minister added.

Al-Jubeir reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed regional developments as well as bilateral ties in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, giving no further details.

In April, the US announced the end of exemptions it had granted to eight nations, China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, to buy Iranian oil.

Tehran responded by saying that if the US blocks its oil exports it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important marine trade routes.

Last month, the US designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, to which Tehran responded by putting US troops deployed in the Middle East on its list of extremist groups. EFE

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