King Salman meets with US Defence Secretary Mark Esper in Riyadh on Tuesday. Reuters
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia met US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper in his office on Tuesday to discuss “strategic cooperation” between Riyadh and Washington.
The meeting, where top officials from both countries were also present, also tackled joint security and defence issues.
The meeting in Riyadh, where Esper arrived late on Monday after an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, also took in defence issues and the current situation in the region.
On October 11, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following a mid-September drone and missile attack on Saudi oil plants, which Washington blames on Iran.
Esper has said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defence batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed to the kingdom since last month.
The September 14 attack knocked out two major facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais, roughly halving Saudi Arabia's oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as an "act of war" but neither Saudi Arabia nor the United States have overtly retaliated.
Tensions have soared in the Gulf in recent months with a series of attacks on oil infrastructure and tankers, raising fears of war between the arch-rivals. Iran has denied any involvement.
The split between the president and his Pentagon chief came amid heightened tensions with Tehran following a US drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Trump had twice warned that he would hit Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates against the US.
On a day trip scheduled after Iran shot down a US drone, Pompeo flew into the Red Sea city of Jeddah and met with King Salman at his palace.
Many experts say the effort is overdue, given military advances in China during the past two decades as America focused on counter-terrorism operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight after its nearly four-hour trip, called it "a moment of history." "As-salaam alaikum (Peace be upon you)," he said to arriving passengers. "Come again and again and again."
The Jordanian father of the child, Rakan, expressed his gratitude and thanks to the leadership, and its great interest in providing health and psychological care at the highest and most prestigious levels for those infected with COVID-19.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the girl took the drastic step after the mother refused to take her along to a wedding ceremony.