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Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Filed on October 21, 2019 | Last updated on October 21, 2019 at 10.40 pm
pentagon, pentagon chief, saudi arabia, saudi, iran

(Reuters file)

Upon landing in Riyadh, he met the head of US Central Command.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between Washington and Tehran, and Russia seeking to boost its influence in the Middle East.

Esper is likely to meet Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key regional ally since taking office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

Upon landing in Riyadh, he met the head of US Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from an international accord that put limits on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

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