US reaffirms Saudi strategic relations

Reuters
Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken already spoke earlier this month with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan.



By AFP

Published: Fri 19 Feb 2021, 9:26 PM

Washington has reaffirmed its “strategic defence partnership” with Riyadh in the face of increased attacks by Yemeni rebels but the move came in a call from the Pentagon not the White House.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned the Houthi attacks in a telephone conversation on Thursday with his Saudi counterpart, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the official Saudi Press Agency and a Pentagon statement said.

The conversation came after the White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s first telephone call to Saudi leaders would be to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.

Austin spoke with Prince Mohammed “to reaffirm the strategic defence partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, the Pentagon statement said.

“The secretary condemned the recent Houthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and expressed his commitment to assisting Saudi Arabia in the defence of its borders.”

The Houthi militants have stepped up cross-border drone and missile attacks in recent weeks as they resumed an offensive to seize the Saudi-backed government’s last major toehold in northern Yemen.

Although Biden has reached out to US allies in every corner of the world, he has yet to speak with Saudi leaders.

“Secretary Austin reiterated recent changes in US policy towards the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, discussed the importance of ending the war,” the Pentagon statement said.

Washington has also dropped the Houthi rebels from the US blacklist of terrorist organisations.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken already spoke earlier this month with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan.


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