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US military training mission in Saudi Arabia extended for $350m

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shares lunch at the mess with members of the military as he visits the Prince Sultan air base in Al-Kharj, in central Saudi Arabia on 20 February 2020. [ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shares lunch at the mess with members of the military as he visits the Prince Sultan air base in Al-Kharj, in central Saudi Arabia on 20 February 2020. [ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The US Department of State has extended the US Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia for five years in return for $350 million, a statement reported by Arabi21 said yesterday.

The US Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia (USMTM) is based in the capital Riyadh, with around 330 US personnel and contractors working from the centre to train the Saudi military.

According to the statement, the US State Department greenlighted the extension of the mission which includes military training in Riyadh and retention of support services and consultations.

The money would be used to pay the salaries of the US military, residence and communication expenses and fees for teaching their children.

"Our mission is to enhance U.S. national security through building the capability and capacity of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (SAAF) to defend our common interests in the Middle East region," the US Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia said on its website.

READ: US envoy to Yemen made 'surprise visit' to Mahra, urged implementing Riyadh deal

There have been increasing calls by US lawmakers for America to stop its support of the Saudi military as a result of the human rights abuses being committed in Yemen.

In September 2019, a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers campaigned to end the Saudi-led war in Yemen, by blocking American logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes in Yemen.

While US President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to end his country's support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen when he becomes president.

"Under Biden-Harris Administration, we will reassess our relationship with the [Saudi Arabia] Kingdom, end US support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil," Biden said in a statement during his election campaign.

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