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Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif calls oil tanker incidents 'suspicious', wants regional talks

Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Baghdad. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters London Jun 13, 2019, 04.14 PM (IST)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said two oil tanker incidents in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday were "suspicious" and called for regional dialogue to avoid tensions.

Zarif tweeted that "reported attacks on Japan-related" oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman had taken place while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei "for extensive and friendly talks".

"Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning," he tweeted. "Iran's proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative."

An Iranian port official denied on Thursday reports that one of the tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman had sunk, state broadcaster IRIB reported.

The official said a fire in one tanker was fully contained and its 21 crew would be returned to the vessel after safety inspections. A second ship was still burning, he said.

Shipping firms and industry sources said two tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, sending oil prices as much as 4% higher a month after four other tankers were damaged by limpet mines in the region.

Meanwhile, state-run Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) said on Thursday its vessels were operating as normal after suspected tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman, state news agency KUNA reported on Thursday.

The company is ready for any emergency and has taken all necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safe operation of its fleet, KOTC added.

Story highlights

Zarif tweeted that "reported attacks on Japan-related" oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman had taken place while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei "for extensive and friendly talks".