US committed to long-term defense partnership with Saudi Arabia: Pentagon spokesman

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The United States is committed to a long-term defense partnership with Saudi Arabia, especially as it relates to regional air defense to deal with any “Iran-related emergencies,” Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Thursday.

Robertson also confirmed that the US is committed to long-term defense contracts with Saudi Arabia and intends to strengthen the air defense capabilities in the region.

“The American forces maintain strong capabilities in the [regional] operations, including air defense, to address any Iran-related emergencies as needed,” Robertson was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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A Patriot missile battery is seen near Prince Sultan air base at al-Kharj on February 20, 2020. (File photo: AFP)
A Patriot missile battery is seen near Prince Sultan air base at al-Kharj on February 20, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

Earlier this month, the US removed two of its four Patriot anti-missile units from Saudi Arabia, leaving two more at Prince Sultan airbase.

Saudi Arabia will replace two US missile defense batteries at oil sites and will still be able to defend itself from any Iranian aggression, according to experts in the field who said the move did not affect strong US-Saudi relations.

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Robertson said his statement come “in response to some American press reports that claimed that reducing the forces or their equipment in the region might open the way for increased threats in the Middle East.”

“We continue to work with the international community and the Saudi armed forces to strengthen regional air defense capabilities, and this is a multi-lateral and long-term effort; The US-Saudi defense partnership is long-term, and includes a range of aspects of cooperation, including counter-terrorism, maritime security and air defense,” Robertson added in his interview.

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