The Iranian Foreign Ministry said today ahead of a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Tehran is ready to hold talks with its regional rival following an attack on two oil refineries that the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen claimed responsibility for. Asked about reports that Mr Khan, due to arrive in Iran at the weekend, may try to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “I am not aware of any mediation.” He continued: “Iran has announced that, with or without a mediator, it is always ready to hold talk with its neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, to get rid of any misunderstandings.”
Iran’s foreign minister signalled this week that his country would be willing to discuss regional issues with Saudi Arabia, but that Riyadh had to stop “killing people”.
Saudi Arabia, which is locked in several proxy wars in the region with Iran, has blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi oil plants last month, a charge Iran denies.
The news comes after US President Donald Trump said that he has deployed an additional 3,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia within the last month despite having previously insisted the desert Kingdom should “fight their own wars”.
American military presence in Saudi Arabia has increased significantly following an attack on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities.
Iran has announced it is prepared to hold crunch talks with Saudi Arabia
Tehran is ready to hold talks with its regional rival
It comes just days after President Trump announced 1,000 American soldiers were being withdrawn from Syria, making way for a Turkish invasion.
In a statement, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman commented: “Defence Secretary Mark Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defence Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defence of Saudi Arabia.
“Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorised within the last month.”
There have been serious concerns about the security of Saudi Arabia since two of its oil processing facilities were attacked by drones on September 14.
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Mr Khan is due to arrive in Iran at the weekend
The attack, which both the US and Saudi authorities blame on Iran, briefly cut Saudi oil production by half.
Mr Esper added: “We thought it was important to continue to deploy forces to deter and defend and to send the message to the Iranians: Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces, or we will respond.
“I’ve said time and time again, do not mistake our restraint for weakness, if you will, you will regret that.”
Britain, France and Germany also released a joint statement saying Iran was responsible for the attack.
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However, Houthi militants, Shia allies of Iran based in Yemen, said they were behind the explosions.
The attacks raised major concerns about Saudi Arabia’s ability to defend itself from foreign adversaries.
On October 9, announcing the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, President Trump tweeted: “The United States has spent eight trillion dollars fighting and policing in the Middle East.
“Thousands of our great soldiers have died her been badly wounded.
President, Mr Trump hit out at the amount of military support the US provides Saudi Arabia previously
“Millions of people have died on the other side. Going into the middle east is the worst decision ever made.”
Two days later, on October 11, the Pentagon announced a significant boost to the US presence in Saudi Arabia.
Additional forces will include two fighter squadrons and two patriot missile batteries designed to shoot down incoming missiles.
Before becoming President, Mr Trump hit out at the amount of military support the US provides Saudi Arabia. On August 31, 2014, he tweeted: “Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won’t, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them.”