Saudi Crown Prince, Pentagon Chief Discuss US Troop Deployment in the Kingdom - SPA
23:01 25.09.2019(updated 23:34 25.09.2019)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper on Wednesday spoke by phone about ongoing arrangements to send US troops to the kingdom, state-run media reported.
The Pentagon chief said that Washington would do everything necessary to help Riyadh defend itself, adding that Iran's alleged aggressive policy must be curbed, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Esper also thanked the kingdom "for joining the International Alliance for the Safety and Protection of Maritime Navigation and its role in contributing to the security of navigation and global trade", the SPA said.
The crown prince said that the attack on the kingdom was a dangerous escalation toward the world that requires a firm stand to preserve international peace and security, according to the media report.
In June, the Trump administration announced the deployment of about 500 US troopmembers to Prince Sultan Air Base east of Riyadh. According to media reports, US troops were first based in Saudi Arabia following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which allowed al-Qaeda* to claim US forces were polluting the birthplace of Islam until a 2003 withdrawal ordered by the Saudi government.
The return of US troops to Saudi Arabia is part of both countries' intense focus on countering Iran.
On 14 September, a drone attack on two Saudi Aramco plants, in Abqaiq and Khurais, resulted in a more than a twofold drop in the country's net oil output. As a result of significant damage done to the facilities, the production of about 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day was suspended.
Although Yemen's Ansar Allah movement, also known as 'Houthi', claimed responsibility for the attack, the United States and Saudi Arabia blame Iran. Tehran has rejected the allegations.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said earlier that the US government defers to Riyadh on the origin of the recent strikes on Saudi oil facilities.
Tensions in the Middle East have been on the rise since the United States walked out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reinstated harsh sanctions on the Islamic republic.
*al-Qaeda is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.
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