Saudi Gazette report
Riyadh — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and US Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed here on Wednesday ways of enhancing strategic bilateral relations, especially in the field of defense.
They also reviewed the latest regional and international developments.
The Kingdom and the US have a decades-old relationship.
Mattis arrived in Riyadh Tuesday afternoon, wishing to “reinvigorate” ties by listening to Saudi leaders and learning “what are their priorities”, a US official said.
Mattis has called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world”.
In February, US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Tehran after a ballistic missile test launch, and in response to its support for Yemen’s rebels.
The US military is watching Houthi activities along the strategic Bab Al-Mandab strait connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.
Rebels in late January attacked a Saudi warship in the Red Sea, and they are also believed to have fired missiles toward US warships in the area.
The United States says the rebels are deploying coastal defense missiles and other weapons which threaten free navigation in the waterway which is vital to global trade.
“I am extraordinarily concerned about another contested maritime chokepoint in the region,” US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee in March.
After Saudi Arabia, Mattis travels Thursday to Egypt and then to Israel on Friday before returning to the Gulf Saturday for talks in Qatar.