U.S. Envoy for Iran Meets Saudi Deputy Defense Minister, Calls for De-escalation

Meeting takes place as Iranian officials say Trump cautioned Tehran through Oman that a U.S. strike was imminent

Sailors stand above a hole the U.S. Navy says was made by a limpet mine on the damaged Panama-flagged, Japanese owned oil tanker Kokuka Courageous, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, June 19, 2019.
AP

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook met Saudi Arabian Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Friday, the minister tweeted.

They discussed recent attacks in the region which the United States and Saudi Arabia blame on Iran, which Tehran denies being behind. Prince Khalid affirmed Saudi support for the U.S. campaign to pressure Tehran.

"Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force, Iran needs to meet our diplomacy with diplomacy and not military force," Hook told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh. "It's important we do everything we can to de-escalate." 

According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump approved military strikes on Friday against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned, $130-million surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them.

>> Analysis: Iran, U.S. are on the warpath again. This time, Israel has little say ■ Analysis: Iran may soon try to provoke Israel to gain the upper hand in its conflict with the U.S. 

On Friday, Iranian officials told Reuters that Tehran had received a message from Trump through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent.

"In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues ... he gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran's immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei to decide about this issue," one of the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The second official said: "We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision ... However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences."

The Global Hawk drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. The U.S. says the unarmed drone was flying over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz but Iran says it was on a spy mission over its territorial waters. 

The United States and Saudi Arabia are among countries that have blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a major transit route for global oil supplies. 

Meanwhile, Russia accused the United States of deliberately stoking dangerous tensions around Iran and pushing the situation to the brink of war, the RIA news agency reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called on Washington to weigh the possible consequences of conflict with Iran and said a report in the New York Times showed the situation was extremely dangerous.