1. ITV Report

Johnson talks to Saudi crown prince in wake of oil facility attacks

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammad bin Salman has been speaking to Boris Johnson. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held telephone talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the wake of attacks on oil facilities in the Middle East country.

Downing Street said work is still ongoing to establish what happened in the attacks at a processing plant and a key oil field.

The US has alleged Iran was responsible – a claim Tehran denies.

A Number 10 spokesperson said the PM had spoken to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday to discuss the attacks on the Aramco oil facilities.

The spokesperson said: “He (the PM) expressed the UK’s condemnation of the attacks and said the UK stands by Saudi Arabia and is committed to the country’s security.

“The two leaders noted the need to establish the facts of what happened and the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of a collective response.

“He encouraged the crown prince to continue working with international partners.”

Earlier, the UK said it would work with allies on a “collective response” to the attack on Saudi oil facilities.

Mr Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the situation in a phone call on Tuesday.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who are at war with a Saudi-led coalition which is trying to restore Yemen’s internationally-recognised government to power, have claimed they carried out the strikes.

Where the attacks took place. Credit: PA Graphics

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and Mrs Merkel “discussed Saturday’s attacks in Saudi Arabia and the need to work together, alongside international partners, to agree a collective response”.

A spokesman added: “On the issue of Iran, they reaffirmed their commitment to a common approach and the importance of avoiding the further escalation of tensions in the region.”

The UK, Germany and France have worked closely together on the diplomatic handling of Iran, backing the country’s nuclear deal even after Donald Trump pulled the US out of it.

Mr Trump declared on Monday that it “looks” like Iran was behind the attack on the oil facilities but he stressed that military retaliation was not yet on the table.

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The UK has not yet attributed responsibility for the attack, which has caused turbulence in oil markets and could have a knock-on effect on prices at the petrol pump.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson has been regularly updated on developments.

“He has been having discussions with officials and his Cabinet colleagues. Work is still ongoing to establish precisely what happened.”

American officials released satellite images of the damage and said the attackers used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft.

Independent experts said the satellite images show the attackers had detailed knowledge of which tanks and machinery to hit within the sprawling Saudi oil processing facility at Abqaiq to cripple production.

The US alleges the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday’s attack did not come from neighbouring Yemen, as claimed by the Houthi rebels.

The Saudis have invited the UN and other international experts to help investigate, suggesting there is no rush to retaliate.