Arab Leaders Confer on Iranian Attacks; New Convoy Leaves Kuwait With AM-Iran-UN
Sep. 12, 1987
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ A new convoy of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers headed down the Persian Gulf with U.S. Navy escorts Saturday during a lull in the fighting, as six Arab leaders met on action to deter Iranian attacks on Kuwait.
The halt in shipping attacks by Iran and Iraq came as U.N. Secretary- General Javier Perez de Cuellar met Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati in Tehran. The U.N. chief is on a mission to end the 7-year-old Iran- Iraq war.
Shipping sources said the British frigate Andromeda, escorting the first Kuwaiti tanker reflagged with the Union Jack, had a confrontation with an Iranian warship in the southern gulf. But the encounter never got past words.
In the Saudi Arabian summer resort of Taif, the foreign ministers of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council met behind closed doors at Kuwait's request.
No details were announced. But the ministers were reported to be discussing how to stop Iranian attacks on Kuwait, which Iran charges directly aids Iraq.
Iran has concentrated its attacks in the gulf on Kuwait's ships or those trading with the oil-rich state at the northern end of the gulf.
Kuwait accused Iran of launching at least one missile against its territory this month. But it has not directly blamed Iran for at least two other missile strikes.
The council includes Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman in a defense and economic pact.
A convoy of U.S. warships escorting the 81,283-ton Surf City and the 79,999-ton Chesapeake City left Kuwait early Saturday, said the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., in a statement.
It said the guided missile frigate USS Rentz accompanied the convoy, adding: ''No unusual Iranian air or surface activity was detected.''
The two tankers, escorted up to Kuwait on Sept.2 without incident, had completed loading at Kuwait's Al-Ahmadi oil terminal days ago, but remained at anchor while waiting for the U.S. Middle East Force command to send warship escorts, shipping executives said.
The Chinese-made Silkworm missile Kuwait accused Iran of firing on Sept. 4 crashed into an empty beach area about two miles from the Surf City and the Chesapeake City and not far from refinery.
on Saturday, the ships were in the eighth one-way convoy to be escorted by American warships since July 21.
About 20 percent of the non-communist world's oil passes through the Persian Gulf, and the Reagan administration has sworn to keep the gulf open to navigation.
Iran and Iraq have attacked more than 350 ships since February 1984.
U.S. Navy Secretary James H. Webb was making a weekend inspection tour of the Middle East Force. He boarded the flagship USS LaSalle Friday before flying in a helicopter to the assault carrier Guadalcanal.
The Surf City and the Chesapeake City are two of 11 Kuwaiti tankers that Washington agreed to reflag with the Stars and Stripes to entitle them to U.S. Navy protection.
Maritime salvage officers, who insisted on anonymity, said the British ship warned the Iranian frigate by radio Saturday, ''Stop training your guns on our ship,'' and that Iranians responded, ''Why don't you ground your helicopter?''
The Andromeda acquiesced, said the sources.
It was escorting the reflagged Kuwaiti tanker al-Faiha, renamed the Tonbridge last week. The 263,679-ton tanker left Kuwait's al-Ahmadi oil terminal Thursday with a cargo of oil, shipping sources said.
Both ships were spotted in the southern gulf at noon Saturday, about 25 miles off Dubai.