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AFP
June 19, 2019

Key powers urged to secure waterways

World

AFP
June 19, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cabinet urged world powers on Tuesday for firm measures to secure shipping lanes across the region, state media reported, after last week’s twin attacks on tankers that escalated regional tensions.

The cabinet called for "decisive action to ensure the safety of navigation in the waterways of the region... in the face of threats to energy markets and the dangers to the global economy," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

The request comes after the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, loaded with highly flammable methanol, came under attack last Thursday as it passed through the Gulf of Oman along with the Norwegian-operated Front Altair.

It was the second assault in a month in the strategic shipping lane. US President Donald Trump has said the operation had Iran "written all over it", rejecting Tehran’s vehement denials. The view was echoed by Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and a bitter regional rival of Iran.

In his first public comments since the attacks, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Sunday he would not hesitate to tackle any threats to the oil-rich kingdom, while holding Iran responsible for the twin attacks.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih also urged world powers on Monday to cooperate on keeping shipping lanes open for oil and other energy supplies, local media reported. Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any US attack. Doing so would disrupt oil tankers travelling out of the Gulf region to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.

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