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Iran Doesn't Want Conflict, Says Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, But Any US-Saudi Attack Would Spark 'All-Out War'

"We don't want war. We don't want to engage in a military confrontation. But we won't blink to defend our territory."

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran, Feb. 13, 2019. (Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned Thursday that while his nation does not desire military conflict, any attack by the United States or Saudi Arabia would spark "an all-out war" in the Middle East.

"We don't want war. We don't want to engage in a military confrontation," Zarif said in an exclusive interview with CNN. "But we won't blink to defend our territory."

The Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities this past weekend, but Iran has denied any involvement.

Zarif told CNN that he does not know who was responsible for the incident and accused the U.S. and Saudi Arabia of falsely pointing fingers at Iran.

"We believe that a military confrontation based on deception is awful, will have a lot of casualties," said Zarif. "We have never started a war. Go back through the history. We never started a war, any war, in the past 250 years. We don't plan to start another war. It's not in our interest to start a war because we are content with our size, with our geography, with our natural resources, with our human resources, with our strength."

"We believe that we do not need war in this region," Zarif added. "We believe that we need dialogue, we need cooperation, we need confidence-building in this region."


Zarif's comments came hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attacks on Saudi oil facilities "an act of war" during a meeting with Saudi leaders on Wednesday.

In a tweet responding to Pompeo's comment, Zarif accused Pompeo and the Saudis of "agitation for war."

"For their own sake, they should pray that they won't get what they seek," said Zarif. "They're still paying for much smaller Yemen war they were too arrogant to end four years ago."

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