London: The United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have jointly called for “diplomatic solutions” to ease soaring tensions with Iran.

“We call on Iran to halt any further actions which threaten regional stability, and urge diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions,” said the statement released by the US on Monday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Arabian and Emirati leaders.

The four countries renewed concern about an attack by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels on a civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia and recent sabotage of ships which Washington blamed on Iran.

“These attacks threaten the international waterways that we all rely on for shipping. Ships and their crews must be allowed to pass through international waters safely,” the four countries said of the Gulf incidents.

“We further note with concern the recent escalation in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia using Iranian made and facilitated missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. In particular, we condemn the Houthi attack on Abha civilian airport on 12 June, which injured 26 civilians.

“We express full support for Saudi Arabia and call for an immediate end to such attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it is very concerned about the impact that tensions in the Middle East may have on global energy security and will act if there is any physical disruption to supplies, its executive director said on Monday.

Oil prices rose on Monday, extending large gains last week that were prompted by tensions between the United States and Iran, although concerns about the possibility of weakening demand kept a lid on gains.

Strong growth in the price of US shale oil has also contained stronger increases, the IEA’s Fatih Birol added on Monday.

“We are monitoring the situation very closely and are very worried. In case of physical disruption, we are ready to act in an appropriate way,” Birol told a news conference at the IEA’s annual energy efficiency conference in Dublin.

Last week, benchmark Brent crude climbed 5 percent and US crude surged 10 percent after Iran shot down the US drone.

Iran denies any role in the tanker attacks.

Birol said earlier this month that the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which stoked concern of reduced flows of crude on one of the world’s key shipping routes, threatened global energy security.

However on Monday he cited the strength of US shale oil prices for supporting the market, similar to the buffer it provided through US sanctions imposed on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela.

“This would definitely have bad implications for the global economy but despite those attacks, we have not seen a major impact on the prices and the main reason is United States shale oil prices are growing so strongly that there is a lot of oil in the markets now,” he said.

“It provides a ceiling on the price hikes which is very good news for consumers around the world.”
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