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Thu. 8:24 a.m.: UN experts in Saudi to investigate oil attacks; Iran warns of war

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks after stepping off his plane upon arrival Wednesday at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Nations says its panel of experts on Yemen have arrived in Saudi Arabia to investigate an attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq acknowledged their arrival in a statement to journalists today.

He said the inspectors had “started their mission, undertaken at the invitation of the Saudi authorities.” He did not elaborate.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says it will not join a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.

Ahmad al-Sahhaf says Gulf security is the responsibility of Gulf countries. In a statement today, he said Iraq rejects Israel’s participation in the coalition.

The U.S. 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. Israeli media quoted an Israeli official in August saying the country had joined the coalition, but the only publicly pledged countries recognized by the U.S. are Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates.

Iraq, which is allied with both Iran and the U.S., has tried to keep a neutral stance amid the tensions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is warning that any U.S. or Saudi military strike on Iran will result in “all-out war.”

Zarif made the comment in an interview published by CNN today.

It comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called an attack on Saudi oil installations an “act of war.”

The U.S. accuses Iran of being behind the attack. Iran denies that.

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, saying it is over the yearslong Saudi-led war there that’s killed tens of thousands of people. However, experts told The Associated Press the cruise missiles used in the assault did not have the range to have been launched from Yemen and reach their targets.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to German says his country has not ruled out any options in response to the recent attacks.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Deutschlandfunk radio today it’s not yet clear where the attacks originated but “Iran is definitely behind them.”

Asked whether military retaliation was being considered, he said “everything is on the table.”

He says his country’s ultimate response to the oil attacks would also depend on the international community.

He says the situation could deescalate if Iran can be convinced “something like this is not acceptable.”

France’s top diplomat is expressing doubt at claims by Yemen’s rebel Houthis that they are responsible for recent drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today on CNews television that the claims are “not very credible.” He would not speculate on who was responsible, but reiterated that France sent its own experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate what happened.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia suspect Iran was behind Saturday’s attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oil field.

Le Drian urged Iran to respect its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and “come back to the table” to restore calm in the increasingly tense Persian Gulf region.

He said France is talking to “everyone in the region” as it pushes for a diplomatic solution instead of a new military conflict.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates says it has joined a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.

The state-run WAM news agency announced the UAE’s decision in a statement today.

It quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to “ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.”

Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.

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