US President Donald Trump said on Friday he was ready to launch talks with Iran whenever it was ready, even as he blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
“We want to get them back to the table," Trump told Fox News in an interview. “I’m ready when they are," adding that he was in “no rush."
Asked how to he planned to address Tehran and stop any further incidents, Trump said: “We’ll see what happens."
Thursday’s attacks raised questions about shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a key commercial route, and what steps the US may take to protect the area. US officials have said the US would defend its interests.
“They’re not going to be closing it. It’s not going to be closed. It’s not going to be closed for long," Trump said.
The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the attack, citing a video made from a US aircraft that it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on patrol boats drawing up to one of the ships near the Strait of Hormuz after the blasts and removing an unexploded limpet mine.
“Iran did do it," Trump told Fox. “It’s essentially got Iran written all over it... I guess they didn’t want the evidence left behind."
Tehran has called to US accusation alarming and wrong.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."
He accused Washington of seeking to “sabotage diplomacy" as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran. One of the targeted vessels is owned by a Japanese company while the other was Norwegian-operated.
Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the far more powerful US.
Doing so, would disrupt traffic of oil tankers between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which leads to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.
“If the hostility of enemies increase, we will be able to do so," Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Bagheri, told semi-official ISNA in April. Trump played down the threat.
“It’s not going to be closed, it’s not going to be closed for long and they know it. They’ve been told in very strong terms," Trump told Fox News. Oil prices have surged in response to the geopolitical tension. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom was monitoring the situation with “great concern," the Saudi SPA news agency said.
AFP contributed to this story.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.