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Thursday February 20th, 2020 12:54PM

The Latest: King Salman urges world effort to thwart Iran

By The Associated Press
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JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Latest on developments related to tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):

11:50 p.m.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened a summit of Gulf Arab leaders in the holy city of Mecca with a call on the international community to confront Iran to stop its regional interference and threatening policies.

Speaking at a gathering of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi monarch noted the alleged sabotage of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a key Saudi pipeline earlier this month as just the latest examples of what he described as acts that show "the Iranian regime's behavior and it's threat to regional security are a blatant challenge to international norms."

Attending Thursday night's summit were the leaders of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior officials from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

___

5:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that if Iran wants to talk, he's available.

Trump says that Iran's economy is suffering from U.S. sanctions and that the country is becoming a "weakened nation."

As tensions between Washington and Tehran escalate, Trump claims Iran wants to make a deal.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says, however, that negotiating with the U.S. would bring nothing but harm.

He said Wednesday that his country will not negotiate on issues related to its military capabilities. He insists that Iran isn't looking to acquire nuclear weapons — not because of sanctions or the United States, but because they are forbidden under Islamic Sharia law.

At the White House on Thursday, Trump told reporters: "If they want to talk, I'm available."

___

7:20 a.m.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says Muslim nations must confront recent attacks blamed on Iran with "all means of force and firmness."

Ibrahim al-Assaf made the comments early Thursday at a meeting of foreign ministers of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Jiddah ahead of a series of summits in the kingdom.

Al-Assaf said the alleged sabotage of boats off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels required the region to "make more efforts to counter the terrorist acts of extremist and terrorist groups."

Iran has denied being involved in the attacks, which come amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S.

Al-Assaf added: "We should confront it with all means of force and firmness."

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