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Saudi Arabia urges 'decisive' response to threats against energy supplies

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih attends a news conference after the 6th meeting of the Russian-Saudi Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow on June 10, 2019
Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih attends a news conference after the 6th meeting of the Russian-Saudi Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow on June 10, 2019 AFP/File
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Riyadh (AFP)

Saudi Arabia's energy minister on Saturday called for a "swift and decisive" response to threats against energy supplies following twin attacks on tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel.

"There must be a swift and decisive response to the threat against energy supplies... created by the recent terrorist acts in the Arabian Gulf," Khalid al-Falih was quoted as saying on the ministry's Twitter page.

He was speaking at a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers in Japan after the attacks on Thursday, which sent crude prices soaring amid a tense standoff between Iran and the US.

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman when it was rocked by explosions, causing a blaze that was quickly extinguished.

US President Donald Trump said the twin attack, which also targeted a tanker owned by Oslo-listed company Frontline, had Iran "written all over it".

Falih has previously said the kingdom was monitoring the situation with "great concern" and called for action to secure maritime traffic, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, is a bitter regional rival of Iran.

Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the United States.

Doing so would disrupt oil tankers travelling out of the Gulf region to the Indian Ocean and global export routes.

But Trump has played down the threat.

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