Iran, Saudi Arabia say don’t seek war
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington should show restraint amid rising tensions in the Middle East, China's Foreign Ministry said.
Speaking to Pompeo by telephone, Wang said China hoped all parties will exercise restraint and act with caution to avoid escalating tensions.
Wang emphasized that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is committed to the denuclearization, peace and stability of the Middle East.
He also warned against “long-arm jurisdiction” by the US, according to the ministry readout.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that Pompeo spoke with Wang and “discussed elements of the bilateral relationship, including US concerns about Iran,” but gave no other details.
Tensions have escalated in recent days, with growing concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict. The US deployed an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf, one of the world's most strategic waterways, over alleged threats from Iran.
The phone conversation came after Iran’s foreign minister’s visit to China.
Meeting Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing on Friday, Wang said China’s opposes unilateral US sanctions on Iran and backs Tehran's efforts to safeguard its interests.
"China resolutely opposes the US implementation of unilateral sanctions and so-called 'long-arm jurisdiction', understands the current situation and concerns of the Iranian side, and supports the Iranian side to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests," he said.
Iran signed the deal with China, Russia, Germany, Britain, France and the United States. International sanctions were eased in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
But last year US President Donald Trump walked away from the accord. The US has since then slapped sweeping sanctions on Iran.
Zarif told his Chinese counterpart that Iran has no intention to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and opposes war.
Before leaving Beijing on Saturday Zarif again dismissed the possibility of war erupting, saying Tehran did not want conflict and no country had the “illusion it can confront Iran.” This stance was also echoed by the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Sunday.
Major General Hossein Salami said Iran does not seek war but is not afraid of one either.
Salami said that Iran was currently facing a threat close to its territory and thus the IRGC had operationalized its resources against that threat.
“When a threat is posed from afar, we think about it [only] on a strategic level, but when it comes close, we become active on operational levels as well,” he said.
He emphasized that Iran did not intend to be the aggressor party.
“We are not after war but we are not afraid of war either; though, before us, enemies do not have the will to wage war and are afraid of fighting [too],” Major General Salami said.
He stressed that Iran was prepared in all defensive areas.
On April 8, the United States blacklisted the IRGC, prompting Iran to reciprocate by designating American forces based in West Asia as terrorists. The US has also deployed an aircraft carrier, a bomber task force, and an assault ship to the Persian Gulf, claiming that IRGC boats in Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf were equipped with missiles.
Saudi does not want war
Saudi Arabia said also on Sunday that it wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with “all strength” following recent attacks on Saudi oil assets.
Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering Tuesday’s drone strikes on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement. Two days earlier, four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Iran has denied involvement in either operation.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference.
“It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests.
“We want peace and stability in the region but we will not sit on our hands in light of the continuing Iranian attack,” Jubeir said. “The ball is in Iran’s court and it is up to Iran to determine what its fate will be.”
Saudi Arabia’s ally, the UAE, has not blamed anyone for the tanker sabotage operation, pending an investigation.
Saudi King Salman on Sunday invited Persian Gulf and Arab leaders to convene emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss implications of the attacks.
The drone strike on oil pumping stations, which Riyadh said did not disrupt output or exports, was claimed by the Houthis, who have been battling a Saudi-led military coalition in a war in Yemen since 2015.
The head of the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, derided Riyadh’s call to convene Arab summits, saying in a Twitter post that they “only know how to support war and destruction.”
Reuters, AFP, Xinhua, Bloomberg and Press TV contributed to this story.