United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reaching out to wary foreign leaders to frame alleged Iranian attacks in a Middle East oil shipping route as a problem for the world at large, especially for Asian countries vitally dependent on that oil.
News Agency PTI reported , Pompeo, in a series of Sunday television interviews, emphasized the US international outreach in the wake of what the U.S. says were Iranian attacks Thursday on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz .
“I made a bunch of phone calls yesterday. I’ll make a whole bunch more calls today. The world needs to unite,” Pompeo said. He did not say what kind of action the Trump administration envisioned.
“We are going to work to build out a set of countries that have deep vested interest in keeping that strait open to help us do that,” Pompeo said.
That echoed comments from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan this past week when he said the US goal is to “build international consensus to this international problem.”
Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign against it.
Pressed on whether any new US military deployment to the region was possible, Pompeo said that “of course” remained among the options that President Donald Trump may consider to keep shipping safe through the narrow strait, a strategic choke point for oil shipments from the Middle East.
Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from an international agreement, signed in 2015 by President Barack Obama, to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Trump has reinstated economic sanctions and recently ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian oil.
That has deprived Iran of oil income and has coincided with what U.S. officials said was a surge in intelligence pointing to Iranian preparations for attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the Gulf region.
The US has accelerated the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group to the region, sent four nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Qatar and bolstered its defenses in the region by deploying more Patriot air defense systems.