Saudi official in US for talks on Yemen, Iran, Khashoggi
Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister was in Washington on Tuesday meeting with senior U.S. officials including White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, the White House said.
WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister on Tuesday (Jul 6) became the highest-ranking Saudi envoy to visit Washington since Joe Biden became president in January and was holding talks with senior officials on the Yemen war and threats from Iran.
The minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, is the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country's de facto ruler, who is accused by US intelligence of approving a 2018 operation in which Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, an allegation denied by Saudi Arabia.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Khashoggi's death would also likely come up in the talks. The Trump White House had maintained strong ties with the crown prince despite Khashoggi's death at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
The visit with officials in both the State and Defence departments will give Saudi Arabia a sense of how relations with the United States have shifted from then-President Donald Trump's pro-Saudi policies.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the country's government from Sanaa. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.
Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government is now in Aden, though Hadi is based in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Tens of thousands of Yemenis, mostly civilians, have died in six years of war, and millions are on the brink of famine.
Psaki said talks would also cover Saudi defence needs.
"They'll discuss the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, regional security and the US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups," she said.