Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman has been in the United States since Tuesday to hold talks with US officials. Within the scope of his trip, the Saudi Deputy Minister met with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Wednesday. After the meeting, Khalid bin Salman said that he held a “great meeting” with US diplomat. During the meeting, the two officials exchanged views regarding strengthening US-Saudi relations and regional developments, he added.
Khalid bin Salman noted that he also met with the Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland. The meeting focused on the cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, as well as opportunities on a wide range of issues. According to the statement issued by the State Department following the meeting, Nuland reiterated the US’ support to Saudi Arabia against cross-border attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi group. During the meeting, she also emphasized the importance that the US gives to promoting human rights in the Kingdom.
On the other hand, speaking at a press conference, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that the Saudi deputy minister also had several meetings with other US officials, including Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, and Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking. During the meeting between Khalid bin Salman and Tim Lenderking, the two discussed attempts for mitigating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen and other steps which would be taken to bring an end to the conflict, including the softening of restrictions at Hodeidah port and Sana’a Airport.
Lenderking also emphasized the need for the continuation of negotiations between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-supported Southern Transitional Council to provide necessitated mediums which would give a path to the return of the Yemeni Government to Aden so that the government could maintain the essential services that the Yemeni people need and deserve.
The Saudi official’s visit came as the first by a high-ranking official from the Kingdom to Washington since US President Biden took office in January. Since then, it is seen that Biden is taking steps to recalibrate ties with Riyadh, which benefited much from warm relations during the previous term of former US President Donald Trump. In this sense, Biden released in February an intelligence report indicating that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation that caused the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.