Saudi FM expects ‘excellent relations’ with Biden administration

Prince Faisal said that Riyadh will continue to consult with Washington with regards to the Iran nuclear deal.
Sunday 24/01/2021
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a news conference at the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) 41st Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, January 5, 2021. (REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud speaks during a news conference at the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) 41st Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, January 5, 2021. (REUTERS)

LONDON - Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Saturday the kingdom was optimistic that it would have “excellent relations” with the new US administration of President Joe Biden and that it would continue to talk with Washington regarding the Iran nuclear deal.

“I am optimistic. Saudi Arabia has built solid, historical relations where it worked with different administrations. We will continue to do that as well with President Biden,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in an interview with Arabiya TV.

Biden had said during his campaign that if elected he would “re-assess” US ties with Saudi Arabia.

Prince Faisal said that Riyadh will continue to consult with Washington with regards to the Iran nuclear deal. The United States pulled out in 2018 of the 2015 deal between major powers and Iran, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions. “I believe basically the consultations will be around reaching a solid and strong agreement that takes into account Iran’s failure to comply. ..with strong monitoring factors to ensure the implementation of the agreement,” Prince Faisal said.

Biden has said that if Tehran resumed strict compliance with the agreement Washington would too.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies including the United Arab Emirates, concerned about Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional network of proxies, supported Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Tehran and welcomed his decision to quit the nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.  They have said that this time around they should be included in any potential negotiations between the Biden administration and Iran on a new nuclear deal, to ensure it addresses Iran’s missile capabilities and “malign activity”‌.

There are signs Washington is also worried about Iran’s ballistic missile program and regonal activities.

Retired US Army General Lloyd Austin, new US Pentagon chief, said earlier this week that Iran posed a threat to American allies in the region and forces stationed there.

“Iran continues to be a destabilizing element in the region. … It does present a threat to our partners in the region and those forces that we have stationed in the region,” Austin said during his congressional confirmation hearing.

“If Iran were ever to get a nuclear capability, most every problem we deal with in the region would be tougher to deal with because of that,” he added.

Newly appointed Secretary of State  Antony Blinken said the US will “seek a longer and stronger agreement”..

An expanded agreement could address Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the region as well as its missiles, Blinken said.

Having said that, “I think we’re a long way from there“.

The minister reiterated the kingdom’s stance that having a peace agreement with Israel is conditional on implementing the Arab Peace Initiative.