September 16, 2019 / 12:12 PM / a month ago

Iraq says U.S. does not believe Iraqi territory used to launch attack on Saudi

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi delivers a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Monday it had been told by the United States that Washington did not suspect an attack on Saudi Arabia had been launched from Iraqi territory.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi by phone “the information they have confirms the Iraqi government’s statement that its territory was not used to carry out this attack,” the Iraqi government said.

Saturday’s attack on a giant crude oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia knocked out 5% of global oil production.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls the capital of Yemen has claimed responsibility, but U.S. officials have said they believe the strikes may have come from the opposite direction, which could point toward Iranian or Iraqi territory.

Washington blames Iran for the attack, wherever it was launched. The Iraqi statement said Pompeo and Abdul Mahdi had agreed to share intelligence over the attack.

“The prime minister stressed that Iraq’s duty was to safeguard its own security and stability, to avoid any escalation, and to prevent its territory being used against any neighboring, brotherly, or friendly country,” his office said.

Iraq is one of the few countries friendly with both Iran and the United States. Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella of mostly Shi’ite paramilitary groups backed by Iran, are influential in parliament and have allies in government.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Peter Graff

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