Pen­tagon chief dis­cusses mil­i­tary co-oper­a­tion with Saudi Arabia’s deputy de­fence min­is­ter

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US De­fence Sec­re­tary Mark Esper met Prince Khaled bin Sal­man, Saudi Arabia’s deputy de­fence min­is­ter, on Monday on the first day of his visit to Riyadh.

Mr Esper and Prince Khaled re­viewed re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries and as­pects of strate­gic and mil­i­tary co-oper­a­tion, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency re­ported.

The two also re­viewed chal­lenges, threats, com­mon se­cu­rity and de­fence issues.

Prince Khaled met Mr Esper in Au­gust at the Pen­tagon, where the US of­fi­cial called the US-Saudi Arabia re­la­tion­ship “one of the most en­dur­ing” in the Mid­dle East.

Dur­ing his first visit to the king­dom, Mr Esper met King Sal­man and Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man.

On 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 last year, when the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion with­drew from an in­ter­na­tional ac­cord that put lim­its on Tehran’s nu­clear pro­gramme in ex­change for the eas­ing of sanc­tions.

On Oc­to­ber 11, the Pen­tagon said it was send­ing more US troops to Saudi Arabia af­ter Riyadh asked for re­in­force­ments.

That came af­ter the Septem­ber 14 drone and mis­sile at­tacks on Saudi Ara­bian oil plants, which Wash­ing­ton blames on Iran.

Iran has re­sponded ap­pre­hen­sively to US troop de­ploy­ments this year.

But Riyadh and Tehran have shown a will­ing­ness to talk.

Iran last week urged diplo­macy to re­duce ten­sions, in­clud­ing the war in Ye­men, but said that an Ira­nian tanker dam­aged in the Red Sea had been hit by rock­ets and there would have to be con­se­quences.

AFP

US De­fence Sec­re­tary Mike Esper also met King Sal­man

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