EU cracks surface over Saudi attack

01 August 2019, Yemen, Aden: A soldier stands guard near the damaged building of the Sheikh Othman police station after an attack. At least 60 people were killed on Thursday in two attacks targeting a camp during a military parade and a police station in the government-controlled port city of Aden. The missile attack on the camp in the western section of Aden was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Photo: Wail Shaif/dpa

UNITED NATIONS: France and Britain were at odds on Monday over who to blame for an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, potentially complicating efforts to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran at the U.N. General Assembly.
France has led a European push to try to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran and sees the annual gathering of global leaders that began on Monday as an opportunity to revive diplomacy.
But those efforts have stalled, with Iran reducing its commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, from which Washington withdrew last year, and the United States refusing to ease sanctions that have strangled its oil exports, a mainstay of the Iranian economy.
An attack on Saudi oil facilities, which the United States has blamed on Iran, has also complicated matters. Hopes at the end of August that U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could meet at the United Nations now seem slim.
“We haven’t received any requests this time, yet, for a meeting and we have made it clear a request alone will not do the job,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York. “A negotiation has to be for a reason, for an outcome, not just for a handshake.”
He said there are prerequisites for a meeting – Iran has demanded the United States lift all sanctions – and then there could be a meeting between Iran, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – the original parties to the nuclear deal – but there would be no bilateral meeting. Trump, arriving at the United Nations on Monday, was asked about the possibility of meeting: “We’ll see what happens.”
Speaking on his way to New York, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to break ranks with his European counterparts on Monday, apportioning blame directly on Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia.
“The UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco attacks. We think it very likely indeed that Iran was indeed responsible,” Johnson told reporters.
“We will be working with our American friends and our European friends to construct a response that tries to deescalate tensions in the Gulf region,” he said.–Agencies