Paris sending experts to Saudi to shed light on attacks, Macron tells MBS

Paris (AFP) –


France is sending experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the origin of attacks on Saudi oil facilities that Washington blamed on Iran, the presidency said Wednesday after telephone talks between President Emmanuel Macron and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Macron spoke to Price Mohammed, widely seen as the kingdom's de-facto ruler and known as MBS, following Saturday's attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia that badly hit its oil output.

Yemen's Iranian-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for multiple drone strikes but a US official said Tuesday that the administration of President Donald Trump concluded the attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran.

In the telephone talks, Macron "strongly condemned" the attacks and assured Prince Mohammed of France's "solidarity with Saudi Arabia... in the face of these attacks," the Elysee said.

It added: "In response to a request by the Saudi authorities, the president confirmed to the crown prince that France was sending experts to take part in investigations aimed at shedding light on the origin and nature of the attacks on September 14."

The statement gave no further details on the nature of the investigation or who France believed was to blame for the attacks.

The attacks have again raised concerns in the region that the United States could launch a military strike on Iran as tensions rise over Tehran's nuclear programme.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed for Saudi Arabia Tuesday to discuss possible retaliation with its ally.

Macron has spearheaded diplomatic efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis, pressing Trump to hold face-to-face talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The statement said that Macron reaffirmed to MBS "the engagement of France for the security of Saudi Arabia and stability of the region".