Pompeo heads to Saudi Arabia as US official says Aramco attacks came from ‘Iranian soil’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens as Donald Trump meets with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

Pompeo heads to Saudi Arabia as US official says Aramco attacks came from ‘Iranian soil’

  • Official tells AFP that cruise missiles were involved in attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais
  • Vice President Mike Pence says United States evaluating evidence on the attacks

WASHINGTON: The United States has concluded that the weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities was launched from Iranian soil and cruise missiles were involved, a US official told AFP on Tuesday.

The comments come as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to the Kingdom Tuesday amid heightened tensions after the strikes.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the United States was gathering evidence about the attack to present to the international community, notably European allies, at the UN General Assembly next week.

Asked if Washington was certain that the missiles had been launched from Iranian soil, the official answered: "Yes."

US intelligence services have the capability of determining where the missiles were launched from, the official said, declining, however, to say how many were fired.

"I will not get into that kind of details," the official said.

On Tuesday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with UK prime minister Boris Johnson over the phone, with Johnson assuring the prince of the importance of a “collective global response” to the Aramco attack.

The weekend strikes on Abqaiq -- the world's largest oil processing facility – and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia have roiled global energy markets.

Yemen's Iran-backed-Houthi militants claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks but Saudi Arabia accused Iran and President Donald Trump also singled out Tehran.

"Certainly, it would look to most like it was Iran," Trump said Monday.

The president said the United States wanted to help its Saudi ally but he wanted to avoid a war.

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday the United States was evaluating evidence on the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and stands read to defend its interests and allies in the Middle East. If Iran conducted Saturday's attacks to pressure Trump to back off his sanctions regime against Tehran, they will fail, Pence said. 

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


Riyadh Global Digital Health summit looks at technology in combating COVID-19

Updated 5 min 16 sec ago

Riyadh Global Digital Health summit looks at technology in combating COVID-19

RIYADH: As part of the programs of the Saudi Secretariat for the G20, a two-day virtual global summit for digital health was launched in Riyadh on Tuesday.
It aims to adopt new technological solutions, improve quality and accessibility, and reduce costs to counter the negative effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Dr. Bandar Al-Knawy, CEO Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs and summit president, highlighted the steps taken by the Kingdom in the wake of the pandemic and the successful organization of the annual Hajj pilgrimage amid the health crisis.
WHO Chief Information Officer Bernardo Mariano Jr. reviewed the role of his organization in combating epidemics. He said the coronavirus pandemic has not only affected public health but it has also affected economic and social aspects of human life.
Mariano Jr. gave a presentation on how to deal with epidemics in the era of digital technology. He deplored that the public health sector was not as digitally advanced as other sectors such as media, finance, and education.
He urged measures to ensure the rapid transformation of the health sector along modern lines.
Panel discussions were also held on the first day of the summit covering several health-related issues and on ways to deal with diseases using modern technology.
The summit brought together leaders of health care systems, public health, digital health, academic institutions, and businesses to discuss the vital role of digital health in the fight against current and future pandemics.
It has been organized by the Ministry of National Guard’s Health Affairs Department and G20 Saudi Secretariat, in collaboration with the Saudi Center for International Strategic Partnerships.

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WEDNESDAY -  DAY TWO

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TUESDAY - DAY ONE

16:30 (BST)

15:30 (BST) - Dr. Johkdar of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health explains how Saudi Arabia used five elements to handle the COVID-19 pandemic - and continue to handle it - adding where the Kingdom has achieved and where it can improve going forward.

14:30 (BST) - Dr. Erik Volz, senior lecturer at Imperial College's School of Medicine has discussed global predictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining how new prediction models have assisted in that.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, talks specifically about the Middle East region. He cross-examines why Saudi Arabia's good handling of the virus has meant it did not need to go into an extended lockdown, whereas Iran's handling has led to more cases and deaths than there should have been if the virus has been handled properly.