Lapid, Blinken Discuss Response to Iran Over Lethal Attack on Israeli-operated Ship

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M/T Mercer Street ship near Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.
M/T Mercer Street ship near Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.Credit: Johan Victor

Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held talks on Saturday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken over their reply to the alleged Iranian drone attack on a Japanese-owned vessel managed by a company run by an Israeli businessman on Friday that left two dead. 

Lapid and Blinken discussed a joint response to the drone attack, as well as formulating broader international action.

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"Secretary Blinken and FM Lapid discussed the attack on the Mercer Street, a commercial ship which was peacefully transiting through the north Arabian Sea," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

He added that "they agreed to work with the United Kingdom, Romania, and other international partners to investigate the facts, provide support, and consider the appropriate next steps."

After the incident on Friday, Israeli, U.S. and European sources pointed the finger at Iran over the attack on the Japanese-owned ship, operated by a company run by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer, off the coast of Oman.

Israeli sources believe an unmanned drone was used in the attack, with the New York Times reporting that multiple drones crashed into the living quarters of the vessels. 

Over the weekend, Lapid also spoke to his British and Romanian counterparts on the incident, after citizens from each of the two countries were killed in the strike. 

"Iran is not just an Israeli problem, but an exporter of terrorism, destruction and instability that affects the whole world. We can never remain silent in the face of Iranian terrorism, which also harms freedom of navigation," Lapid said after the incident. 

According to one Iranian source speaking to Al-Alam News Network, an Iranian Arabic-language news channel, the attack was indeed carried out by Iran, and was a response to Israel's strike on an airport in the Quseir region of Syria last week.  

In recent maritime confrontations between Iran and Israel, this marks the first time that an attack on a vessel linked to Israel has resulted in casualties. 

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