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Arab Leaders Condemn Iran, As Trump Hopes Tehran Will Budge

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 30, 2019.

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia as "sowing discord among Muslim countries," as tens of Arab leaders taking part in two summits in Mecca condemned Iran's "destabilizing interventions in the region" and accused it in their final statement Thursday night May 30 of being behind recent attacks against Persian Gulf countries.

The Arab League has 22 members and by all indications they participated in the Arab League’s emergency summit and except Iraq, they all supported the final statement, which was mostly about Iran.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's King Salman boosted the rhetoric against his country's regional rival Iran, calling on Arab states to confront Tehran's "criminal" actions, alluding to recent attacks by Houthi rebels on oil installations in the kingdom as well as attacks on oil tankers in the Sea of Oman.

The condemnation of alleged Iranian interventions followed U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton's statement on Wednesday that Iran was "almost certainly" behind the May 12 attacks on four ships, two of them Saudi oil tankers, off the United Arab Emirates. At the time, Tehran rejected the accusation as "laughable" and accused Bolton of pursuing "evil desires for chaos in the region."

In another development, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the attacks on the four vessels near a major bunkering hub, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, were "efforts by Iranians to raise the price of crude oil around the world."

In the meantime, contrary to tough talks by other U.S. officials, President Donald Trump on Thursday sounded certain that Iran was ready for an agreement, adding that he would be prepared to talk if Iranians are ready to negotiate a settlement.

Meanwhile, responding to the charges made by Saudi officials and the participants of the Arab League and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council summits, the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi described the charges as "baseless allegations," and accused Saudi Arabia of "exploiting" its role as host.

Mousavi further charged that Saudi Arabia was serving the interests of Israel by sawing discord among Muslims, adding that "We see the attempts by Saudi Arabia to rally neighbouring and Arab countries against Iran as the continuation of futile attempts by America and the Zionist regime," Iranian news agencies quoted him as saying.

He also insisted: "Saudi Arabia has used the holy month of Ramadan and the holy city of Mecca for political gain in order to put to the world baseless claims against Iran," adding that the main goal of the Islamic and Arab world should be the liberation of Palestinians, semi-official news agency ISNA quoted Mousavi as having said.

The Arab League and Persian Gulf Cooperation Council's summits were held in Mecca on Thursday. Saudi Arabia hosted the two meetings in Mecca, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting attended by an Iranian delegation which is taking place on Friday.

In its closing statement, the Arab League summit accused Iran of "intervention in the internal affairs of regional countries" including Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, and involvement in "firing Iranian-made ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia," and called on Iran to respect international laws.

Regional media reported that it was only Iraq that unilaterally objected to the Arab League's closing statement at the emergency summit in Mecca, calling instead for "constructive dialogue" with Iran.

Iraq refused to be included in the final statement, announcing it did not participate in drafting it, local and regional media reported.

As tensions have been on the rise in the Persian Gulf region, U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on Thursday that a repositioning of U.S. military assets in the region had succeeded in deterring Iran, however, adding that the United States would respond with military force if its interests are targeted, Reuters quoted Hook as saying.

Last week the Pentagon announced the deployment of 900 additional troops to the region and extended the stay of 600 other service members, after speeding up deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and sending bombers and additional Patriot missiles, the agency added.