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Tehran Vows Response To 'Cowardly Attack' On Iranian-Owned Oil Tanker

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The Sabiti tanker was apparently hit in Red Sea waters off Saudi Arabia on October 11, Iranian media have reported. (file photo)

Iran has described as a "cowardly attack" an incident that Iranian media have called the apparent targeting by missiles of an Iranian-owned oil tanker.

"An appropriate response will be given to the designers of this cowardly attack, but we will wait until all aspects of the plot are clarified," government spokesman Ali Rabei was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA on October 12.

The Sabiti tanker was apparently hit in Red Sea waters off Saudi Arabia on October 11, Iranian media have reported.

The incident, yet to be independently confirmed, is the latest involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and Gulf region, and may ratchet up tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, regional rivals involved in a proxy war in Yemen, which lies at the southern end of the Red Sea.

Iran said on October 12 that it was willing to meet with Saudi officials, with or without a mediator.

Asked about talk that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was due to arrive this weekend in Iran, might seek to mediate talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi was quoted by IRIB as saying he was "not aware of any mediation," according to Reuters.

But, he added, "Iran has announced that, with or without a mediator, it is always ready to hold talk with its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, to get rid of any misunderstandings."

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia's border guards said on October 12 that following a distress call via e-mail from the presumably stricken Iranian tanker, "it was found that the tanker continued its sailing...and turned off its automatic tracking system without responding to calls."

The United States has blamed Iran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf in May and June as well as for strikes on Saudi oil sites in September. Tehran has denied having a role in any of them.

Tehran has denied having a role in any of them, and Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for the "drone or missile" attacks in mid-September on the Saudi oil facilities.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the United States last year withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Saudi Arabia initially said it had no comment on the October 11 reported attack on the Iranian-owned tanker.

The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of the reports but had no further information.

There was no claim of responsibility for the reported incident

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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