WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US officials briefed Saudi Arabia on intelligence reports that Iran fired more than 20 drones and several missiles at Saudi oil facilities on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing reports that repairing the damage would take months.
Saudi Arabia said the United States did not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that the attack was launched from Iran, and that US information was inconclusive, the newspaper said.
She pointed to a split among officials in Washington and Riyadh on how to respond, some want to strike Iran militarily, while others fear that any attack could lead to a wider regional confrontation.
The Wall Street Journal said President Trump and his national security team discussed possible military action against Iran, but they made no decision.
Earlier, Trump reiterated his desire to avoid war with Iran, with his willingness to help Saudi Arabia in return for money.
Trump told reporters that US officials were investigating who was responsible for the attacks on Saudi Aramco's facilities, adding that Iran appeared to be responsible, but he certainly wanted to avoid war with it, although his country had the "most powerful army in the world." Diplomacy is never exhausted when it comes to Iran.
"I think a big part of the responsibility lies with Saudi Arabia in defending itself. If there is protection from us, Saudi Arabia also has to pay a great deal of money. I also think that the Saudis should have a big contribution if we decide to take any action," he said. They have to pay, they understand it well. "
Not for military action
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy rejected calls for a military response to the Abqaiq attack in Saudi Arabia if Iran were found to be behind it.
He said in a tweet on his Twitter account that Saudi Arabia is not the fifty-first US mandate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to help Saudi Arabia after the attack on Aramco's facilities and said Russian weapons would protect any infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
"There is a real threat of military conflict following the Aramco attack, and we hope for a peaceful solution," said the director of Russian foreign intelligence.
At the same time, the Kremlin announced that Moscow had no information indicating who was responsible for the Aramco attacks.
The soft planes targeted last Saturday two oil facilities, one of them a huge plant for processing crude oil in Saudi Arabia, which led to a decline in global oil production by 5%.
Yemen's Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Saudi Arabia and its allies hold Iran accountable.
For its part, Iran has denied US accusations of responsibility for the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and said it was flimsy and unfounded.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Aramco attack was reciprocated by "Yemeni citizens" to attack the country.
Rouhani stressed that "the Yemeni people exercise their legitimate right to defend, and that the attacks were a reciprocal response to the aggression against Yemen for years."
In the same context, data tracking ships showed that 11 giant oil tankers are accumulating in Saudi ports waiting to load crude oil shipments, after the attack on the two Aramco oil facilities, which led to the reduction of Saudi production by about half.
Data from Refinitiv showed that 11 tankers were waiting for loading at the ports of Ras Tanura and Al-Jaeema on the Gulf, compared to five last Thursday.
Refinitiv said the disruption of loading operations over the weekend also resulted in the congestion of giant tankers in the dock.
Both CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported that it would take months to repair facilities affected by the attack.