DUBAI (REUTERS) - Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation said on Saturday (June 22) that the country's airspace was safe for airlines to fly through, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, amid escalating tension between Teheran and Washington over the shooting down of an unmanned US drone by Iran.
"Iran-controlled airspace over the Persian Gulf and other flight routes are completely safe," its spokesman, Reza Jafarzadeh, was quoted as saying.
The US Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday issued an emergency order prohibiting US operators from flying in an oversea area of Teheran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
Some other international airlines are also taking related precautions.
On Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a US Global Hawk surveillance drone. Teheran said the drone was shot down over its territory and Washington said it had occurred in international airspace.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate aganist Iran's downing of the US drone because it could have killed 150 people, and signalled he was open to talks with Teheran.
Iran has vowed to defend its borders, saying on Saturday it will respond firmly to any US threat against it.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Tasnim: "Regardless of any decision they (US officials) make... we will not allow any of Iran's borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America."
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted despite Trump saying that he has no appetite to go to war with Iran.
Teheran has also said it is not seeking a war, but has warned of a "crushing" response if attacked.
A senior Arab diplomat said the sharply increased tensions would further harm the crisis-hit Middle East region.
"De-escalation is very important because tempers are flaring... It's very important we avoid confrontation right now," the senior diplomat told Reuters, on condition of anonymity. "Confrontation, whatever we think about Trump or Iran, will be disastrous for everyone."
"Any mistake by Iran's enemies, in particular America and its regional allies, would be like firing at a powder keg that will burn America, its interests and its allies to the ground," the senior spokesman of Iran's Armed Forces, Abolfazl Shekarchi, told Tasnim on Saturday.
The US and Iran's main regional rival Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies.
Tensions began to worsen significantly when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers, and reimposed sanctions on the country. The sanctions had been lifted under the pact in return for Teheran curbing its nuclear programme.
Iran has threatened to breach the deal if the European signatories to the deal fail to salvage it by shielding Teheran from US sanctions.
"The Europeans will not be given more time beyond July 8 to save the deal," Mousavi said, referring to Iran's deadline of 60 days that Teheran announced in May.