Saudi King Salman, Trump reaffirm defense ties amid tensions

WASHINGTON  - U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman spoke by phone on Friday and "reaffirmed the strong United States-Saudi defense partnership," the White House said, amid tensions over Saudi's oil output.

The conversation came a day after a variety of reports said the United States plans to withdraw two Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia that have been a defense against Iran.

Trump had worked last month to persuade Saudi Arabia to cut its oil output after an increase in production during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic put heavy pressure on U.S. oil producers.

"The two leaders agreed on the importance of stability in global energy markets, and reaffirmed the strong United States-Saudi defense partnership. The president and King Salman also discussed other critical regional and bilateral issues and their cooperation as leaders of the G7 and G20, respectively," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

The statement did not make clear what the fate of the Patriots is. The White House declined further comment.

Asked about the issue on Thursday, Trump told reporters, "We’re making a lot of moves in the Middle East and elsewhere. We do a lot of things all over the world, militarily we’ve been taken advantage of all over the world.”

Saudi Arabia said in a statement about the phone call that Trump confirmed the United States is committed to protecting its interests and the security of its allies in the region and is determined to face whatever destabilizes it. Trump also reiterated U.S. support for efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, the statement said.




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