Arab League wants action on oil tanker attacks

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An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between […]

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The Latest on Mideast developments amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region (all times local):
    
8:15 p.m.
    
The head of the Arab League is urging the U.N. Security Council to take action against those responsible for the recent targeting of oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and attacks against Saudi Arabia which he called “dangerous.”
    
Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit told a council meeting Thursday on cooperation between the U.N. and the Arab League that “some parties in our region are trying to instigate fires in our region and we must be aware of that.”
    
Aboul Gheit said an emergency Arab League summit on May 31 condemned “terrorist attacks” against Saudi oil installations and commercial vessels in United Arab Emirates waters and reiterated solidarity “in the face of Iranian interference and practices.”
    
He urged international solidarity “to send an unequivocal and unambiguous message to our neighbors that subversive activities are no longer acceptable,” including “concealing themselves behind regional proxies or gray zone operation that are non-attributable to their original perpetrators.”
    
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7:35 p.m.
    
The Japanese operator of a tanker that was damaged in a suspected attack in the Strait of Hormuz says all of its crewmembers are now safe onboard a U.S. Navy warship.
    
The chemical tanker Kokuka Courageous, operated by Kokuka Sangyo Co., was apparently attacked as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz toward Singapore and Thailand destinations to deliver methanol.
    
All of its 21 Filipino crewmembers escaped on a life boat and were initially rescued by a Dutch ship that was headed to the United Arab Emirates.
    
Company executive Michio Yube said the crewmembers are now on an unidentified U.S. warship. One of the crewmembers received treatment for his injury sustained during the attacks.
    
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7 p.m.
    
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he welcomes Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s commitment during talks to remaining de-nuclearized as “major progress” for regional peace.
    
Abe said Khamenei during Thursday’s talks assured him that Iran has no intention to produce, possess or use nuclear arms.
    
Abe, before boarding his flight back to Tokyo, said he frankly told Khamenei that U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t wish to escalate tension in the Middle East. He said it is important for leaders to ease tensions.
    
Abe says: “A passage to de-escalating tension is difficult, but I hope to continue working for peace and stability in the region and the world.”
    
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6:55 p.m.
    
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Persian Gulf region.
    
The United Nations chief told the U.N. Security Council he is deeply concerned at Thursday morning’s “security incident” in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Two oil tankers were damaged in suspected attacks.
    
Guterres told the 15-member council during a meeting on the U.N.’s cooperation with the Arab League: “I strongly condemn any attack against civilian vessels.”
    
He said “facts must be established, and responsibilities clarified.”
    
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6:25 p.m.
    
Iran’s state TV is reporting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has left Iran to return home after a two-day visit amid tensions between Tehran and Washington.
    
Abe is the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit Tehran since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. He met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
    
Abe traveled to Tehran as an interlocutor for President Donald Trump to ease tensions.
    
However, Khamenei told Abe: “I don’t regard Trump as deserving any exchange of messages and have no response for him and will give no response.”
    
Regional tensions escalated as Tehran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of last year.
    
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5:35 p.m.
    
The firm that operates the Front Altair vessel targeted by an explosion and subsequent fire says the crew of 23 aboard the vessel included Russians, Filipinos and one Georgian national.
    
The crew, rescued Thursday by nearby vessel Hyundai Dubai, were unharmed and were transferred to an Iranian navy vessel and disembarked at a local Iranian port. The firm says they are now being transferred to the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
    
The crew included 11 Russians, one Georgian and 11 Filipinos.
    
International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair, says a salvage tug is now in attendance of the vessel and that no marine pollution or leaks have been reported.
    
The vessel was carrying a petroleum product known as naptha on its way to the Far East.
    
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5:15 p.m.
    
Japan’s trade minister says suspected attacks on a Japanese tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East have not affected Japan’s energy supply, urging people to stay calm.
    
Hiroshige Seko, referring to the alleged attacks, says: “It is not a desirable situation for Japan.” He said the government will take all possible measures to ensure stable energy supply.
    
The incident happened as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a high-stakes visit in Tehran that sought to ease Iran-U.S. tensions, suggested the efforts had failed.
    
Energy-poor Japan mostly relies on oil imports from the Middle East. Most of the shipments from the region pass through the Strait of Hormuz, and its safety is considered crucial for the country.
    
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4:30 p.m.
    
Tracking data shows one of the ships that sustained damage in a suspected attack near the Strait of Hormuz took petroleum products from the United Arab Emirates, while the other took on loads in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
    
Tracking information from the data firm Refinitiv shows the first vessel, the Front Altair, came from Ruwais in the UAE, a loading point for the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. It carried naphtha, a flammable hydrocarbon.
    
That firm, known as ADNOC, did not respond for a request for comment.
    
The other vessel, the Kokuka Courageous, came from Mesaieed, Qatar, and Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Refinitiv says it carried methanol, a chemical compound used in a variety of products.
    
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2:35 p.m.
    
A South Korean company confirms that all the 23 crew aboard one of the two oil tankers targeted in the suspected attack near the Strait of Hormuz have been rescued by one of its cargo vessels sailing in the area.
    
The Seoul-based Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. on Thursday cited crew of its Hyundai Dubai cargo vessel as saying that there were three rounds of explosion sounds at the MT Front Altair before it sent an emergency distress call.
    
The company says it’s the operator of the Hyundai Dubai vessel.
    
A company statement says the 30,000-ton-class Hyundai Dubai vessel sent a lifeboat to rescue MT Front Altair’s 23 crew members before embarking them on the cargo vessel.
    
It says the Hyundai Dubai vessel later handed over the rescued crew members to an Iranian rescue boat.
    
It says the MT Front Altair, built in 2016, was on its way to Japan with naphtha, a petrochemical product, when the suspected attack took place.

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