DUBAI/WASHINGTON: Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday ruled out talks with Washington after President Donald Trump blamed Tehran for a crippling attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.
Saudi King Salman called on governments around the world to confront the threats to oil supplies and global economic stability posed by the weekend attack. European allies said the crisis should be addressed collectively.
Trump said on Monday that it looked like Iran was behind the strike at the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which cut 5% of global production, but stressed he did not want to go to war. Iran denied it was to blame.
“Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials … this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran,” Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.
He said talks could only take place if the United States returned to a nuclear accord between Iran and the West that Trump abandoned last year.
U.S.-Iran relations deteriorated after Trump quit the accord and reimposed sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic programs. He also wants Iran to stop supporting regional proxies, including Yemen’s Houthi group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A day after warning that the United States was “locked and loaded” to respond to the incident, Trump said on Monday there was “no rush” to do so and that Washington was coordinating with Gulf Arab and European states. “I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this.”
Britain and Germany agreed they needed to work with international partners to form a collective response and de-escalate tensions as efforts continued to establish exactly what happened, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Iran nuclear pact, which European parties are trying to salvage, is one building block “we need to get back to”.
Saudi Arabia, which has supported tougher U.S. sanctions on Iran, said an initial investigation showed the strikes were carried out with Iranian weapons. Despite the Houthi claim, the launch site was still being determined.
King Salman, heading a cabinet meeting on Monday, said Riyadh would handle the consequences of “cowardly attacks” that target vital Saudi installations, world crude supplies and global economic stability. The cabinet urged the world to confront those threats “regardless of their origin”.