US, Saudi leaders discuss bilateral ties, Iranian threats
WASHINGTON/ RIYADH--US President Joe Biden and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud held a long-awaited first phone call Thursday, stressing the enduring strength of ties ahead of a potentially explosive intelligence report on the murder of a Washington Post journalist.
In their phone call, Biden and the Saudi monarch were said to have discussed “the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups,” according to a statement from the White House.
The official Saudi news agency, SPA, said that the king and Biden had both stressed ” the depth of the relationship between the two countries, and the importance of strengthening the partnership between them to serve their interests and achieve security and stability in the region and the world.”
Both leaders, it added, discussed key international issues including “Iranian behaviour in the region, and its destabilising activities and its support for terrorist groups.”
The Saudi monarch, it pointed out, “thanked the US President for the US’s commitment to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against such threats and to assure that Iran will not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons” while Biden “commended the Kingdom’s support for the United Nations efforts to reach a truce and a ceasefire in Yemen.”
The statement said the leaders reviewed “destabilizing” Iranian regional activities, the US “commitment to defend” Saudi Arabia “against such threats” and an assurance from Biden not to allow Iran “to possess nuclear weapons.”
According The White House, the US president also “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also held a call on Thursday with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and discussed “joint efforts to bolster” Saudi defenses, and cooperation on ending the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is backing the government against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
They also “discussed the importance of Saudi progress on human rights, including through legal and judicial reforms,” Price added.