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US supports Saudi's "right to defend": Pompeo | USA News



US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States supports Saudi Arabia's "right to defend" and that Iran's behavior should "not be tolerated" in a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), according to a statement on his official Twitter account on Thursday.

Pompeo once again condemned the weekend's attack on Saudi oil fields and supported the Saudis' call for international experts to travel to the country to investigate, the Saudi news agency SPA said in a separate statement.

During the meeting, MBS Pompeo stated that the attacks on state oil company Saudi Aramco aimed to destabilize security in the region and damage the global energy supply.

Speaking to reporters on his way to Jeddah, Pompeo had described the raid on key Saudi oil installations as a "war document" and reiterated that it was an "Iranian attack".

Iran has repeatedly denied that it was behind the attacks.

Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been locked in a war with a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, have taken responsibility for the attacks and warned Saudi Arabia of their targets "will continue to expand ".

But Saudi and American officials have said evidence shows Iran's commitment.

Just before Pompeo's comments, Saudi military officials held a news conference, showing debris from the alleged weapons used during the attacks, saying there was "undeniable" evidence of Iranian aggression.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said there was no way the attacks could have been launched from Yemen.

"The attack began from the north and no doubt sponsored by Iran," said Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki. "We work to know the exact starting point."

Al-Malki did not directly accuse Iran of the attack when asked by journalists. He said that when "the guilty" were identified, they would be "held accountable".

  Saudi oil attacks

Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki Al-Malik shows on a screen drones that the Saudi government says an Aramco oil plant attacked [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

Trump and Saudi officials have emphasized the need for caution in their response to the attacks. Trump has said he does not want war and coordinates with the Gulf and European states.

Hillary Mann Leverett, Executive Director of Political Risk Consultation Stratega and a former US diplomat, told Al Jazeera that the Saudis using the word "sponsorship" indicated some level of caution in the midst of its current diplomatic isolation.

"They have no guarantee that the United States will back them up to retaliate against Iran or anyone else," she said. "They are in a really tough position with very few options. They are trying to present what evidence they can, but there is much doubt here in Washington, and I think around the world, about what the Saudis have to say with regard to their record with Yemen, the Khashoggi killing and other issues. "

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he ordered a major increase in sanctions against Iran, but gave no details.

It is not yet clear what Pompeo's comments mean for the US response to the attacks. [19659004] US media, citing named U.S. officials, reported on Tuesday that evidence showed Saturday's attacks originated in southwest Iran.

Three officials said they involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating a higher degree of complexity and sophistication The United States did not disclose its evidence

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what US intelligence they used to evaluate the attack, which cut five percent of the world's oil production.

The new violence has led for fear that further action on all sides could quickly escalate a confrontation like h has collapsed just below the surface of the larger region in recent months.

Last month, Trump interrupted a military attack on Iran at the last minute after Tehran shot down an unmanned US military drone. Iran maintains that the drone was in the Iranian airspace. The United States says it existed on international territory.

These tensions have boiled since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran's 2015 agreement with the world power that restricted Iran's nuclear operations and reinstated sanctions that sent Iran's economy free. SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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