UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday pressed for an investigation to establish those responsible for a spate of suspected attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf that has raised fears of war.
After the United States accused Iran of carrying out the attacks and Tehran rejected the accusations, the UN chief suggested that an independent entity could step in to verify the facts.
"It's very important to know the truth. It's very important that responsibilities are clarified," Guterres told reporters.
"Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts," he said.
Guterres however said that he did not have the authority to establish such an inquiry, adding that this was the purview of the Security Council.
The UN's political chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, discussed the Gulf crisis with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Bishkek, the UN spokesman said.
The Japanese- and Norwegian-owned oil tankers were struck by explosions in the early daylight hours Thursday after passing through the Strait of Hormuz some 25 nautical miles off Iran's southern coast.
The US Central Command has released footage that purports to show the crew of an Iranian patrol boat removing an object from the hull of the Japanese tanker.
Guterres spoke to reporters after meeting with Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who urged Iran to "be careful, reverse course, because you are pushing everybody towards a confrontation where no one will be safe."