LONDON: Saudi Arabia and the US agree that Iran’s destabilizing behavior must be countered and deterred, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“The Iranian regime continues to provide financial and material support to terrorist groups including in Yemen, where the Houthis have launched 300 Iranian-made ballistic missiles and drones toward the Kingdom,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan after participating in the first US-Saudi Strategic Dialogue.
Iran’s development of its nuclear and ballistic missile program represents a danger to the region and the world, he added.
“Our strong partnership (with the US) is vital in confronting the forces of extremism and terrorism that threaten our security and prosperity,” Prince Faisal said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participated in the dialogue, which aims to further strengthen US-Saudi ties.
At a joint press conference attended by Arab News, Pompeo said Iran’s behavior “threatens Saudi Arabia’s security and disrupts global commerce,” and needs to be reined in.
He added that this was clear from Iran’s attack on Aramco facilities last year, and frequent Houthi bombardment of Saudi territory using rockets, drones and “lethal technologies supplied by the Iranian regime.”
Pompeo said: “Today we reaffirmed our mutual commitment to countering Iranian malign activity, and the threat it poses to regional security and prosperity, and the security of the American people as well.
“Whether transforming the economy and empowering women through its Vision 2030 goals, facilitating negotiations that would bring an end to the Yemeni conflict, or coordinating a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic during its leadership of the G20, Saudi Arabia has been a stabilizing force throughout the region,” the Secretary of State added.
The first US-Saudi Strategic Dialogue marks a new era in the relationship between the two countries, Pompeo said.
“Ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud first laid the foundation for our ties 75 years ago, Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in this volatile region,” Pompeo added.
“The relationship between our people has grown since that time, and it’s distinguished today by deep and steady cooperation between our two nations.”
Pompeo took the occasion to announce that the US is preparing to acquire a 26-hectare site for a new embassy in Riyadh.
The embassy, along with the recent opening of a new consulate in Jeddah and the ongoing construction of a new consulate in Dhahran, represents a US investment of over $1 billion, he said.
Prince Faisal said he looks forward to expanding US-Saudi ties, enhancing institutional cooperation and elevating “our partnership to new highs.”
He expressed concern over the SAFER oil tanker on the Red Sea, which the Houthis are refusing to allow full access to, “threatening an environmental catastrophe that will irreparably damage Yemen’s coastline and marine life in the region.”