US Secretary of Defense Esper meets King Salman, asks NATO to protect Saudi Arabia from Iran

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King Salman receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
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King Salman receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
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King Salman receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
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King Salman receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met US Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met US Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 22 October 2019

US Secretary of Defense Esper meets King Salman, asks NATO to protect Saudi Arabia from Iran

  • The meeting with King Salman tackled joint security and defense issues
  • Esper will urge allies to contribute more to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter Iran’s threats

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in his office on Tuesday to discuss strategic cooperation between Riyadh and Washington, state news agency SPA reported.
“Today, I discussed the deployment of US forces and equipment to #SaudiArabia with @KingSalman,” Esper tweeted following the meeting. 

The meeting, where top officials from both countries were also present, also tackled joint security and defense issues and the situation in the region.
“We agree with the need to take a firm defensive stance in the region to deter Iranian malign behavior and promote stability,” he added.
Esper then met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to review bilateral relations, particularly in the military and defense sectors, as well as a number of issues of mutual interest and regional and international developments.
The US defense secretary arrived in the Kingdom a day earlier on an unannounced visit, with tensions simmering between Washington and Tehran, and Russia seeking to boost its influence in the Middle East.
US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from an international accord that put limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.
As reinstated sanctions put pressure on Iran’s economy, there have been a series of attacks which Washington and close allies blame on Tehran. Iran denies responsibility.
Also on Tuesday, the US defense secretary visited the Prince Sultan Air Base, where he met with troops and assessed the capabilities that the US has deployed to the region to help defend Saudi Arabia, deter Iran and prevent conflict.

Esper got a look at one of the Patriot batteries as he toured the military base.

Esper said he will urge allies later this week to contribute more to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter threats from Iran.
The plan is part of a broader US effort to get NATO allies to take on more responsibility for Gulf security. That has included US pleas for nations to send ships, aircraft and air defense systems to the region.
The US has already agreed to send three Patriot missile batteries, dozens of fighter jets and other aircraft to Saudi Arabia. 
He says the Saudis will “help underwrite” some of the US costs for the additional aid, which includes about 3,000 American troops.


350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

Updated 14 November 2019

350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

JEDDAH: Hundreds of authors from around the world are preparing to take part in a prestigious Saudi book festival.

The Jeddah International Book Fair, to be staged in South Obhur from Dec. 11 to 21, will feature more than 350,000 volumes to cater to all reading tastes.

Now in its fifth edition, the cultural event, run under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, will see the participation of 400 Saudi, Arab and international publishing houses from 40 different countries.

Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, who is head of the fair’s supreme committee, has been coordinating the organization of the event which will include book-signing sessions by 200 authors.

The exhibition, occupying 30,000 square meters, is one of the biggest specialized expos in the Kingdom, and aims to promote reading and the cultural environment.

The fair will also include a program of seminars, lectures and indoor and outdoor theater productions, along with documentary films for families and children, and workshops in visual arts, photography and Arabic calligraphy.

The Jeddah fair is supported by Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, who believes it reflects the city’s culture and traditions, along with backing from Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah. SPA Jeddah