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Fri 19 Jul 2019 02:46 AM

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Bahrain to host security conference amid Iran tensions

Announcement comes as tensions in the Gulf have spiked in recent months, with the US blaming Iran for a series of tanker attacks

Bahrain to host security conference amid Iran tensions

Bahrain said Thursday it would host a conference on "maritime and air navigation security" amid a series of incidents involving tankers and drones which have sparked fears of a conflict with Iran.

The meeting will aim to bolster regional "security and stability" and "find ways to deter the Iranian threat and ensure freedom of navigation in this strategic region", the Gulf kingdom's BNA state news agency said.

Tensions in the Gulf have spiked in recent months, with the US blaming Iran for a series of tanker attacks in and near the highly strategic Strait of Hormuz, charges Iran denies.

The Strait is the conduit for nearly a third of the world's crude oil.

Tehran in June shot down an American drone, nearly prompting retaliatory US air strikes.

Bahrain's announcement came the same day as Iran's Revolutionary Guards said they had detained a "foreign tanker" and its crew for allegedly smuggling fuel in the Gulf.

Also Thursday, US Central Command chief Kenneth McKenzie pledged to work "aggressively" to ensure maritime safety in strategic Gulf waters.

Bahrain, a tiny but strategically placed US ally which hosts Washington's Fifth Fleet, said it would co-host the conference with the US and Poland, host of the Warsaw Security Forum.

It did not specify a date for the meeting.