Published: Sat, September 21, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Saudi Arabia vows quick recovery despite damage to plant

Saudi Arabia vows quick recovery despite damage to plant

Before leaving for NY to attend the UN General Assembly, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif continued his war of words with the USA and its allies on Friday.

Yemen has been ravaged by conflict since late 2014 when Houthi rebels, supported by Iran, captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The news comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returns from a trip to the region where he consulted with Saudi rulers and other Gulf allies on the situation in the region and next possible steps. He said the Defense Department's responsibility is to provide President Donald Trump with military options, but "he makes the determination on what to do".

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 59 cents to $58.72 a barrel, set to post a gain of over 7% for the week.

But Pompeo said the U.S. was intent on finding a way out of the confrontation. US officials have pointed fingers at Iran, without explicitly saying the Iranian government itself ordered the assault on the Abqaiq oil facility or that the drones and cruise missiles were launched from Iranian soil.

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said that, while the country was willing to talk to its regional rivals in the Middle East, it would not hold talks with the United States unless Washington went back on its sanctions. While officials promised the plants would be repaired quickly, they also said they were still in the process of evaluating whether some equipment could be fixed or would have to be completely replaced.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that some people want him to strike Iran, while others are "so thrilled" with his sanctions-heavy approach.

"We believe that we do not need war in this region", Zarif added.

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But the Houthis in Yemen have claimed responsibility and warned of more to come.

"These sites are used to carry out attacks and terrorist operations that threaten shipping lines and worldwide trade in the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the southern Red Sea", a coalition spokesman said.

"Next week, you have the UN General Assembly meeting so the focus will turn to whether U.S. President Trump actually meets Iran's president". In July 2018, two Saudi tankers were attacked by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said groundless accusations against Iran over the attacks were inflaming tensions, Interfax news agency reported. Iran accuses the United States of "deceit".

Zarif responded to this on Twitter with a threat to the United States, saying, "They should pray that they won't get what they seek".

But compared to his initial tough reaction to the attacks, he took a striking change of tone, on Friday saying, "I think the strong person's approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint". "In the meantime, they have a lot of problems within Iran. We do not want conflict".

Despite being a relatively low-profile diplomatic player in the Middle East, China has close economic and energy relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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