US emphasizes diplomacy in Iran despite Tehran threats

Workers are seen at the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 22 September 2019

US emphasizes diplomacy in Iran despite Tehran threats

  • US Secretary of State calls it 'one of the largest attacks on the global energy supply in history'
  • Mike Pompeo says administration 'deeply aware of the risks' of a miscalculation

WASHINGTON: The United States said Sunday it will make its case against Iran at the United Nations this week, insisting it wants to give diplomacy "every opportunity to succeed" after a devastating attack on a vital Saudi oil complex.
Setting the stage for President Donald Trump's address to the annual UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put aside threats of US military retaliation against Iran for the attack.
"President Trump and I both want to give diplomacy every opportunity to succeed," Pompeo said in an interview with ABC's "This Week."
"Our administration's taking this on in a serious way and we are working diligently to see that this has a diplomatic outcome," he said.
"But make no mistake about it, if we're unsuccessful in that and Iran continues to strike out in this way, I am confident that President Trump will make the decisions necessary to achieve our objectives."
The United States has accused Tehran of carrying out the sneak air attacks that set aflame Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq plant and the Khurais oil field September 14, knocking out half the Kingdom's oil production.
Pompeo called it "one of the largest attacks on the global energy supply in history."
Trump initially said US forces were "locked and loaded," and has so far ordered stepped up sanctions against Iran, and a deployment of US troops to Saudi Arabia, primarily focused on defensive missions like air and missile defense.
On Fox News, Pompeo said the administration was "deeply aware of the risks" of a miscalculation leading to conflagration in the tinderbox region.
"It's why we want to resolve this in a way that doesn't resort to kinetic action if it's at all possible to achieve that," he said.
On Sunday, before leaving the White House on a trip to Texas, Trump once again left open the possibility of an unscheduled meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"Nothing is ever off the table, completely, but I have no intention of meeting with Iran and that doesn't mean it doesn't happen," Trump said. "I'm a very flexible person, but we have no intention. It's not set up."
The US diplomatic offensive comes as Iran has sharpened its tone with a warning from a Revolutionary Guard Corps commander that Iran is "ready for any type of scenario."
"Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead," Major General Hossein Salami told a news conference in Tehran.
In a pre-recorded interview with CBS's "Face the Nation," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied Iran was behind the September 14 attack, which was claimed by Iranian-back Houthi rebels in Yemen.
"I'm not confident that we can avoid a war," he said. "I'm confident that we will not start one but I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it," he said.

Lebanese media say Israeli drone shot down over village

Updated 23 October 2019

Lebanese media say Israeli drone shot down over village

  • Israel says the drone “fell” over a Lebanese village
  • Lebanese government investigation said last month two Israeli drones were on attack mission

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s state-run news agency says a Lebanese man shot down an Israeli drone with a hunting rifle near the border village of Kfar Kila.

The Israeli military only says the drone “fell” over a Lebanese village near the heavily-guarded border “during routine security activity.” The military declined to comment on the type of drone or the cause of the crash, which took place on Wednesday.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Israel fought a monthlong war in 2006.

Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war, though the border has been mostly calm since that conflict.

A Lebanese government investigation concluded last month two Israeli drones were on an attack mission when they crashed in Beirut in August.