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France to send experts to help Saudi investigate drone attacks

French President Emmanuel Macron announced France will help find the 'origin' of Saturday's attacks [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 September, 2019

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France is sending experts to Saudi Arabia to help find the 'origin' of Saturday's attacks on Saudi oil processing facilities.

France will send experts to help investigate the recent drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, it was reported on Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office announced the move in a statement Wednesday after the French leader spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The French experts are going at Saudi request to help "shed all light on the origin and methods" of the attacks, the statement said.

Macron denounced the attacks and stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia's security.

Macron's office said Tuesday that France is continuing diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions around the Persian Gulf.

Saturday's attack targeted the world's largest oil processing facility and a major oil field in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the attack, though the US and Saudi Arabia suspect Iran was behind the assault. Iran denies being involved.

The weekend strikes on Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia roiled energy markets and slashed Saudi oil production by half.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss possible retaliation after Washington said it had proof that the attacks originated in Iran.

Vice President Mike Pence announced that Pompeo was on his way to Saudi Arabia to "discuss our response".

"As the president said, we don't want war with anybody but the United States is prepared," Pence said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

In other news, Saudi Arabia announced it is joining a US-led coalition to secure the Middle East's waterways after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement Wednesday morning quoting an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct.

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That's a mission already joined by Australia, Bahrain and the UK.

The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran's seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.

Tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have threatened to boil over since May last year when President Donald Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions in its campaign of "maximum pressure".

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