Pompeo heads to Saudi, UAE on Iran tensions

Washington (AFP) –

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will leave Tuesday for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to "counter Iranian aggression" after an attack on oil infrastructure, officials said.

The State Department said Pompeo would meet Wednesday in Jeddah with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and then go to Abu Dhabi to see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

With the powerful Saudi prince, Pompeo will discuss "the recent attack on the kingdom's oil facilities and coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

The talks come after an attack in Saudi Arabia on Abqaiq, one of the world's largest oil facilities.

Pompeo's trip was earlier announced by Vice President Mike Pence who, reiterating the tone set by President Donald Trump, said it was "certainly looking like Iran was behind these attacks."

"As the president said, we don't want war with anybody but the United States is prepared," Pence said at the Heritage Foundation.

"We're locked and loaded and we're ready to defend our interests and allies in the region, make no mistake about it," he said.

A US official earlier said on condition of anonymity that Washington was certain that the missiles came from Iranian soil.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the attack was carried out in self-defense by Yemen's Huthi rebels, who enjoy backing from Tehran and have borne the brunt of a Saudi-led air campaign that has contributed to a humanitarian crisis.