Oman says it is trying to reduce US-Iran tensions

Washington's deployment to the Gulf of an aircraft carrier task force as well as B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a missile defence battery has sent tensions soaring in the region (AFP Photo/MCSN Jason Waite)

Dubai (AFP) - Oman said Friday it was trying to reduce spiralling tensions between the Unites States and Iran, as the Pentagon confirmed it was considering deploying more troops to the region.

The small but strategically located sultanate, which faces Iran across the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, has maintained good relations with Tehran throughout successive regional crises.

That has at times allowed it to play an important mediating role, including with the United States.

"We and other parties seek to calm tensions between Washington and Tehran," Muscat's state minister for foreign affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said in a statement.

"A war could harm the whole world, and both the American and Iranian sides are 'aware of the dangers'."

Abdullah earlier this week visited Tehran, where he met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Tehran's official state news agency IRNA said.

Oman played a crucial role in bringing US and Iranian negotiators together for the preliminary talks that ultimately led to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, including the United States.

The current crisis began when President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May last year and gradually reimposed crippling sanctions that have left Iran's economy reeling.

Washington has since further increased the pressure on Iran, deploying an aircraft carrier task force as well as B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a missile defence battery to the Gulf.

The movements have come in response to alleged Iranian threats to US interests or those of its Middle East allies.

But they have raised concerns, even among governments close to the US, that brinksmanship with Tehran could lead to a dangerous miscalculation.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi announced that he intended to send delegations to the US and Iran "very soon" in an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries, both key allies to Baghdad.