10:32 GMT +307 December 2019
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    A handout photo made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline of the crude oil tanker Front Altair after the fire onboard the ship in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019

    China Says 'Nobody Wants War in Gulf' Amid Attack on Oil Tankers

    © REUTERS / Frontline/NTB Scanpix
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    Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman (61)
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    Two oil tankers sailing through the Gulf of Oman suffered explosions that damaged the ships and forced the crew to abandon them. Although the cause of explosions has yet to be determined, the US has accused Iran of attacking the tankers and sent a destroyer, USS Mason, to the Gulf. Tehran vehemently denies being involved in the blasts.

    Beijing has called on all parties to act with restraint to avoid an escalation of tensions in the Middle East region that could lead to a war. China stressed that such a scenario is "not in anyone's interest".

    "Nobody wants to see war in the Gulf. We hope all relevant parties remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid tensions further escalating", Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

    China’s Foreign Ministry also expressed hope that all parties can jointly work out measures to ensure "navigational safety in the relevant waters" as well as regional peace and stability. The ministry's spokesman also added that China itself will continue taking steps to ensure its energy security.

    Beijing has long been a major oil importer from the Middle East, including from Iran. Despite Tehran's oil being sanctioned by the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently called Beijing's ties with the Islamic Republic "strategic and long-term".

    An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran, June 13, 2019
    © REUTERS / ISNA
    An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran, June 13, 2019

    Norway’s Front Altair and Japan’s Kokuka Courageous oil tankers suffered blasts on 13 June, while sailing through the Gulf of Oman in Iran's territorial waters. Iranian boats reportedly helped to evacuate the crew of both ships. Both vessels suffered considerable damage due to the explosions.

    Although the cause of the explosions has not yet been determined, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately accused Iran of attacking the ships. Following the incident, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that it had sent the destroyer, USS Mason, to the Strait of Oman and released a video allegedly showing an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat approaching the Japanese tanker and purportedly removing an unexploded mine from its hull.

    A handout photo made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline of the crude oil tanker Front Altair during the firefighting of the fire onboard the ship in the Gulf of Oman
    © REUTERS / NTB SCANPIX
    Crude oil tanker Front Altair during the firefighting of the fire onboard the ship in the Gulf of Oman

    Tehran has vehemently denied being involved in the explosions and warned the US and its regional allies against running false flag operations in the Gulf and trying to blame Iran for attacks on oil tanker. In light of the US actions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that Washington poses a "serious threat" to stability in the Middle East in particular and the world in general.

    The attack comes after four other oil tankers suffered blasts in the Gulf of Oman near the shores of the UAE in May. Abu Dhabi called the explosions "acts of sabotage". The explosions didn't lead to any casualties or oil spills. US officials accused Iran of being behind the incident, but Tehran denied the claims and also condemned the attack on the vessels.

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    Attack on Tankers in Gulf of Oman (61)

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    oil tankers, Gulf of Oman, war, China, Iran, US
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