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Saudi deputy minister in Washington for first meetings since Biden took office

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman in Washington, DC on 29 August 2019 [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman in Washington, DC on 29 August 2019 [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister on Tuesday became the highest-ranking Saudi envoy to visit Washington since Joe Biden became president in January. Prince Khalid Bin Salman held talks with senior officials on the Yemen war and threats from Iran, Reuters has reported.

The minister is the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the country's de facto ruler, who is accused by US intelligence of approving a 2018 operation in which Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The Kingdom has denied the allegation.

Although White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said that Khashoggi's death would likely come up in the talks, a statement on the minister's meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not mention the murder. Sullivan did say, though, that "the importance of progress in advancing human rights in the Kingdom" had been emphasised.

The two officials discussed the US partnership with Saudi Arabia, regional security and "the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups."

The prince also met with Colin Kahl, the US defence undersecretary for policy, and the two discussed "efforts to end the war in Yemen and the shared US-Saudi commitment to counter Iran's destabilising activities" and other issues, said the Pentagon.

The meetings will give Saudi Arabia a sense of how relations with the United States have shifted from the pro-Saudi policies of former Republican President Donald Trump.

READ: US troop withdrawal from Saudi imminent as Washington seeks to contain China

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Asia & AmericasMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUS
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