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UAE Says Convincing Evidence Needed On Gulf Tanker Attacks

Bishkek - Kyrgyzstan - Minister of Foreign Affairs of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan - 24.05.2017
DUBAI, June 26 (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that clear and convincing evidence was needed to apportion blame for attacks last month on four oil tankers off its coast, and that tensions in the region needed to be dialled down.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have publicly blamed Iran for that attack and a subsequent one on two vessels in the Gulf of Oman. Tehran has denied any involvement.

The UAE has submitted the results of an investigation into the first attack, which showed that a state entity was behind them, without naming the country.

If a country was to be identified, "this evidence must be clear and precise and scientific and convincing for the international community," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told a news conference in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The UAE also did not want "more turbulence and ... more worries" in the region.

A war of words between Washington and Tehran has escalated over the tanker attacks and Iran's downing last week of an unmanned American drone.

Sheikh Abdullah also said discussions were under way for a global coalition to protect oil shipping lanes in the region.

That confirmed comments from a senior State Department official who said on Monday that the U.S. Navy was building a "proactive deterrence" programme that would see a coalition of nations provide both material and financial contributions.

Sheikh Abdullah said the project would involved regional and other "(oil) exporting and importing" countries.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif and Sylvia Westall; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Toby Chopra and John Stonestreet)