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Pentagon to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia is a Major Partner, Important Pillar of Regional Security

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FILE PHOTO: The Pentagon is seen in this aerial photo from the Air Force One in Washington, DC, US, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Washington - Muath al-Amri

The US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) said that Saudi Arabia was a major partner of the United States in the region and an important pillar of the regional security.

This comes as the US is preparing to strengthen its military bases in the Kingdom during the coming period.

Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Anton Semelroth, a spokesman for the Pentagon, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Ministry of Defense continues to assess its situation in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region to ensure a balance between operational requirements and risks, as well as to prepare for achieving global commitments.

Semelroth stressed that Saudi Arabia was a key partner of the United States in the Middle East and an important pillar of regional security.

He quoted Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, as telling the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that the Ministry of Defense will maintain talks with its regional partners in the Middle East to determine the capabilities required to deter Iran and support regional stability.

Asked about the suspension of arms sales and transfers to Saudi Arabia, as well as direct commercial sales that were permitted by the administration of former President Donald Trump, the high-ranking US official stressed that this move was temporary.

He emphasized that this regular administrative procedure “demonstrates the administration’s commitment to transparency and good governance, in addition to ensuring that US arms sales meet our strategic goals of building a robust security system for our partners that is more resilient to risks.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that his country would focus on the actions of the Houthi group, which occupied Sanaa and targeted Washington’s direct ally - Saudi Arabia. In his first press conference on Wednesday, Blinken stressed that the Houthis committed numerous violations against human rights.

For his part, General Kenneth Mckenzie, commander of the Central Command on the Middle East, revealed that the Pentagon had concluded a preliminary arrangement with Riyadh for the use of various air bases and sea ports in the western regions of the country to face any war with Iran.

Addressing journalists during a visit to the US bases in Saudi Arabia earlier this week, Mckenzie said that in the event of any conflict with Iran, the United States would be able to transfer forces to and from the region from the West, and to place fighters and other aircraft away from Iranian missile launchers.


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