September 29, 2019 / 11:32 PM / 24 days ago

Saudi crown prince warns of escalation with Iran, political solution 'better'

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warned in an interview aired on Sunday that crude prices could spike to “unimaginably high numbers” if the world does not come together to deter Iran, but said he would prefer a political solution to a military one.

“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the CBS program “60 Minutes.”

The crown prince, in an interview conducted on Tuesday, said he agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Sept. 14 attacks on the kingdom’s oil facilities were an act of war by Iran.

But he said he preferred a peaceful resolution because that “is much better than the military one.” He added that a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would collapse the global economy. The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia have blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has denied any involvement.

U.S. President Donald Trump should meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to craft a new deal on Tehran’s nuclear program and influence across the Middle East, the crown prince said.

Days before the anniversary of the Oct. 2, 2018, killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, the crown prince said: “Absolutely not,” when asked if he ordered the murder. But he said he took full responsibility, “since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”

Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney

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