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Trump says it looks like Iran struck Saudis, ready to help ally

President Donald Trump waits outside the West Wing of the White House for the arrival of Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar on July 9, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
September 17, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that it is increasingly “looking like” Iran was behind an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, but said it was still too early to be sure.

He also said the United States doesn’t want war but was ready to help the country’s key ally in the Gulf region counter the attack once a “definitive” determination is made on who was responsible.

“I don’t want war with anybody but we’re prepared,” Trump told reporters in Washington where he said that talks with allies in the Gulf region and in Europe would precede any U.S. strike.

“We’re also talking to Europe,” Trump said, “a lot of the countries that we’re dealing with, whether it is France, Germany, etcetera, talking to different folks and figuring out what they think.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already blamed Iran. U.S. Defense Secretary Mike Esper made the same allegation on September 16 after the United States issued satellite images and cited intelligence to back its allegation that Iran is behind the September 14 attack.

Iran denies involvement in the air attack, which was claimed by Iranian-backed Yemeni Huthi rebels, who said drones were used.

On September 17, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out negotiations with the United States.

“The policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against the Iranian nation is worthless and all Islamic Republic of Iran officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the United States at any level,” he said, quoted on his official website.

Last week, the White House floated the possibility of a meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rohani, which would mark an extraordinary thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations.

The attack disabled about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production — the biggest disruption to world crude supplies ever.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have soured since Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions over the country’s nuclear and ballistic programs.

Trump said Pompeo and other officials will travel to Saudi Arabia soon.

The attacks reduced world crude oil production by 5 percent, sending prices soaring by as much as 19 percent after the incidents.