By staff and agency

UN welcomes any effort to avoid confrontation in Persian Gulf: Guterres

September 13, 2019

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that any effort to avoid a confrontation in the Persian Gulf “will always be welcome”.

According to AP, he said, “The world cannot live with a major confrontation in the [Persian] Gulf.”

Talking to reporters, the UN chief said, “It is absolutely essential to avoid any escalation of the situation.”

The friction is rooted in U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May 2018 to unilaterally withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 between world powers and Iran.

Since then, the U.S. has reinstated sweeping sanctions against Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign and has also beefed up its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The tensions escalated in May, when the U.S. accused Iran of sabotaging tankers in the shipping route, allegations vehemently denied by Iran.

Washington has called on its European and Asian allies to form a maritime force to supposedly monitor safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.

So far, only Britain, Australia and Bahrain have agreed to join the coalition.

Australian Ambassador to Russia Graeme Meehan has said that Canberra’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf does not mean that the country agrees with Washington’s stand on Iran.

“We are quite careful to say that our participation in the maritime action to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz doesn’t mean that we agree with all the actions that United States are taking in relation to the nuclear deal. Of course, the two things are connected, but there are also differences, and I think that is the same for some of the European countries that are considering participating in the maritime act. The European countries don’t generally agree with the United States’ action of pulling out of the nuclear deal,” Sputnik quoted him as saying.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in August he plans to do everything he can to ease tension in the Middle East region.

“Peace and stability in the Middle East directly links to Japan’s national interest,” Reuters quoted him as saying in a news conference at the end of a three-day international conference on African development.

“I would like to work tenaciously, and play the best possible role to ease tensions in the Middle East,” Abe remarked.

NA/PA

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