The United States said on Thursday it was building a coalition to deter Iranian threats following a weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
Iran has warned U.S. President Donald Trump against being dragged into a war in the Middle East and said it would meet any offensive action with a crushing response.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Trump, who has ordered more sanctions on Iran, wants a peaceful solution to the crisis.
He was speaking after talks with Saudi and Emirati leaders over the strike that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Tehran.
Iran denies involvement in the Sept. 14 attack that initially halved Saudi oil output and which Pompeo earlier called an “act of war” against the world’s largest oil exporter.
Pompeo appeared to soften his tone on Thursday after talks with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, which is Riyadh’s main Arab ally.
“We are here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution. That’s my mission, that’s what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve and I hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it that way,” Pompeo told reporters.
He did not provide details about the coalition. The United States has however been trying to create a global maritime security alliance since attacks on oil tankers in Gulf waters, which Washington also blamed on Iran.
UAE, Saudi Arabia, Britain and Bahrain have said they will participate. Iraq said it would not join, and most European countries have been reluctant to sign up for fear of stoking regional tensions.
Pompeo described his proposed coalition as “an act of diplomacy” while Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, told CNN on Thursday that the Islamic Republic “won’t blink” if it has to defend itself against any U.S. or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to “all-out war”.
Later on Friday, Zarif called Kuwait’s foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al Khalid Al Sabah where the two discussed measures to de-escalate tensions in the region, state news agency KUNA reported.