Pompeo Visits Saudi Arabia, Meets With Crown Prince in Wake of Oil Facility Attacks
By Edward Yeranian September 18, 2019
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Wednesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, insisting that Iran was responsible for the attacks Saturday on Saudi oil installations.
Saudi TV showed Pompeo arriving at Jeddah airport late in the afternoon, before meeting with the crown prince. "Iran is behind the attacks and not Yemen's Houthis," said the secretary, who was due to fly later in the day to the United Arab Emirates to meet UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Zayed.
Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki told journalists at a press conference earlier that 18 drones and seven cruise missiles had hit the two Saudi oil facilities. Three other missiles fell short of their targets, he said, and he displayed photos of those.
"This attack did not originate from Yemen, despite Iran's best effort to make it appear so," al-Maliki said. "Their collaboration with their proxy in the region to create this false narrative is clear. Secondly, the attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran."
He stopped short of saying the missiles had been launched from Iranian territory, despite accusing Tehran of being behind the attacks.
Maliki said Riyadh had invited U.N. investigators to examine the evidence about who launched the attack. Saudi media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told Crown Prince Mohammed he supported a "complete and impartial investigation."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has denied that Tehran was responsible for the attacks. He told journalists in Ankara late Tuesday that Yemen's Houthis had launched the attack "in self-defense," responding to "daily Saudi attacks on their country."
He said Yemenis had been forced to respond to what he called the "flood" of weapons the U.S. and Europe are sending to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They must use legitimate resistance to stop the destruction of their country and Saudi aggression, he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a tweet Wednesday "to substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump did not specify, however, what those sanctions would be.
Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told journalists Tuesday that repairs to the damaged Saudi oil facilities were moving swiftly and that much of the country's oil production was back online.
He said that "with the help of God ... we've been able to contain the damage during the past two days and restore more than half of the production that was taken offline during this terrorist attack."
On Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told a conference at the American Enterprise Institute that the U.S. "doesn't want war with anybody," but that the "United States is prepared; we're locked and loaded, and we're ready to defend our interests and our allies in the region."
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