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Full interview: Saudi FM says Kingdom optimistic about ties with US under Biden

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Saudi Arabia is optimistic about its ties with the United States under the new administration headed by President Joe Biden, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Thursday.

“We are optimistic of having excellent ties with the US under a Biden administration,” the top Saudi diplomat told Al Arabiya in an interview.

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Prince Faisal added that the appointments made by Biden - the former VP under President Barack Obama - “showed understanding of the common issues.”

Biden was inaugurated Wednesday as the 46th president at the US Capitol, where he vowed to work with allies worldwide and restore American diplomacy.

Yemen

“The Biden administration will see that we have common goals with regards to the situation in Yemen,” Prince Faisal said, in reference to the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

But, the Saudi diplomat warned, the Iran-backed Houthi militia must realize that is in the best interest of Yemen to put an end to the fighting.

“The Houthis will facilitate reaching a solution if they decide that the interest of Yemen is the most important,” Prince Faisal said. He added that the recent US designation of the Yemeni militia as a terrorist organization was justified.

Prince Faisal also said that the Riyadh Agreement was a “fundamental building block” for reaching a political solution in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia had introduced the Riyadh Agreement in November 2019 to try to end the dispute in the country’s south that emerged in 2017.

Iran

Biden also said Gulf allies and Israel would be included in any future talks that focused on Iran's nuclear capabilities as well as its ballistic missiles and malign regional activity.

The previous Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was “weak” because there was a lack of coordination with the countries in the region, Prince Faisal.

European countries, who along with the US signed the deal in 2015, now realize that the agreement was “incomplete,” he said.

On Thursday, Prince Faisal called on the Iranian regime to change its mentality and focus on its citizens’ wellbeing.

And calls by Iran for dialogue were part of an effort to divert attention away from Tehran’s own crises,” the Saudi FM said. “They are not serious ... our hand is extended to Iran for peace, but it does not commit.”

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