Top Saudi official holds talks with US state, defence secretaries

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Top Saudi official holds talks with US state, defence secretaries
Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in several proxy wars in the Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]
Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in several proxy wars in the Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]

Saudi Arabia‘s deputy defence minister has said he discussed regional security and military cooperation with senior US government officials at a time of heightened tension with Iran following last month’s attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed common foe, Iran, for the September 14 assault on oil plants that initially halved the output of the world’s top exporter, a charge Tehran denies.

The kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) last month said Riyadh prefers a political solution to a military one, but warned that oil prices could spike to “unimaginably high numbers” if the world does not deter Iran.

Vice Minister of Defence Prince Khalid bin Salman, a brother of MBS, said in Twitter posts that he met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Saudi Arabia and the US “stand side by side in bolstering regional and international security and stability”, Prince Khalid said of his talks with Pompeo.

He and Esper discussed mutual security challenges and reaffirmed “strong military cooperation in countering terrorism and preserving peace and stability”, the prince said.

Sunni Muslim-dominated Saudi Arabia and its regional Shia rival, Iran, are locked in several proxy wars in the Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria.

The Twitter posts made no mention of them discussing Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies launching attacks on Kurdish militia in northeast Syria on Wednesday.

Tensions in the Gulf region have risen since attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in May and June and more limited attacks on Saudi energy assets in recent months that Riyadh has also blamed on Iran.

Tehran denies any involvement.

Saudi Arabia has supported Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran after President Donald Trump last year quit an international nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions, saying the deal was flawed as it does not curb Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its support for regional proxies.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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