US secretary of state meets with Saudi king

Pompeo also met with US military commanders stationed at a Saudi air base along with 2,500 US troops in response to threats from Iran.
Friday 21/02/2020
 Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh. (SPA)

LONDON - Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his trip to Riyadh February 20, Saudi media reported.

The two discussed regional and international developments and the two countries' "distinguised relationship," the official Saudi news agency SPA said in a brief report.

Pompeo passed on the greetings of US President Donald Trump to King Salman, SPA added.

It noted that Saudi ambassador to Washington Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan and US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid were also present at the meeting.

The SPA posted photos from the meeting on Twitter showing Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and National Security Adviser Musaed al-Aiban, an influential official who often attends events involving foreign officials.

While in Saudi Arabia, Pompeo also met with US military commanders at a Saudi air base where some 2,500 US troops are stationed in response to threats from Iran.

The US military presence in the kingdom at the Prince Sultan Air Base includes a squadron of US Air Force F-15E fighters that fly daily missions over Iraq and Syria and two American Patriot missile batteries prepared to knock down any Iranian attack against the Saudi kingdom.

During a question and answer session with traveling reporters, Pompeo and Abizaid were asked to shed light on their conversations with Saudi officials regarding the deployment of US troops in the kingdom.

The US ambassador said that attacks in the Arabian Gulf and Iran-made missiles targeting the kingdom from Yemen had prompted Saudi Arabia to request support from the US. 

“They naturally turned to us for support, and our support has been defensive," Abizaid said. "They’ve never asked for offensive support."

Pompeo told reporters that the Trump administration’s approach to countering Iran differs dramatically from the previous US administration's.

“They’re not going to get nuclear weapons. We’re going to prevent that.” Pompeo pledged.

“They underwrote these very capabilities... The very missile systems that are being launched today were funded by the plan that the previous administration had put in place, supplying hundreds of billions of dollars to the Islamic Republic of – to the regime," he added.