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US, Saudi Arabia Reaffirm Strong Defence Ties 

The two leaders held a telephonic conversation following reports about the United States’ plan to withdraw Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia

US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke on the phone on May 8 and “reaffirmed the strong United States-Saudi defence partnership,” the White House announced in a statement. The conversation between the two leaders came amid tensions over Saudi’s oil output and reports about the United States’ plan to withdraw two Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia, deployed as part of a defence strategy against Iran. 

Last month, Trump had worked on persuading Saudi Arabia to decrease its oil prices after a rise in production during the early stages of coronavirus pandemic, which had put excess pressure on US oil manufacturers. “The two leaders agreed on the importance of stability in global energy markets, and reaffirmed the strong United States-Saudi defence partnership”, White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “The president and King Salman also discussed other critical regional and bilateral issues and their cooperation as leaders of the G7 and G20, respectively.” 

The statement did not include comments on Patriot missiles. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, confirmed on May 8 that the missiles would be withdrawn but it did not symbolise the lessening of US support for Saudi Arabia or pressure the Kingdom into lowering the oil prices. He also clarified that the withdrawing of missiles did not mean that Washington considered Iran as no longer a threat. “Those Patriot batteries had been in place for some time. Those troops needed to get back,” Pompeo told the Ben Shapiro radio show. “This was a normal rotation of forces.”

Saudi Arabia, in a statement, confirmed the United States’ commitment to protecting the interests of the Kingdom and its allies in the region. President Trump also expressed US support in reaching a political solution and resolving the crisis in Yemen, the statement further said.