President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to have been responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he also said he would “like to avoid” a military conflict with Tehran, emphasized his interest in diplomacy and played down the attack’s jolt to the global oil market, The New York Times reports.
Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the strikes on Saturday that crippled much of Saudi Arabia’s oil output, Trump said, “It’s looking that way.” However, he stopped short of a definitive confirmation.
Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. “With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,” he said. “I know they want to make a deal,” he said of Iranian officials, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program and other issues. “At some point it will work out.”
His comments represented a notable shift in tone from the day before, when he wrote on Twitter that the United States was “locked and loaded,” ready to take action based on Saudi Arabia’s needs.
The President’s statements came shortly after Saudi Arabia, Iran’s principal rival in the region, said Iranian weapons had been used in the attack. But while the Saudis said they would “forcefully respond to these aggressions,” they also stopped short of directly blaming Iran and did not call for immediate retaliation, The New York Times adds.