Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks after stepping off his plane upon arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

The Latest: France doubts Houthi claims over Saudi attack

September 19, 2019 - 3:52 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

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 Thursday 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.

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9:20 a.m.

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 Thursday.

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.

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. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.

The Saudi oil installation attack Saturday has further heightened Mideast tensions.

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