US committed to helping Saudi Arabia defend borders, defense sec. tells Crown Prince

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United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to assisting the Kingdom in defending its borders, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Austin condemned the recent cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis and thanked the Crown Prince for the Kingdom’s commitment to a political settlement for Yemen’s six-year conflict, which the United Nations says has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

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“[The Secretary] underscored Saudi Arabia’s role as a pillar of the regional security architecture in the Middle East and the importance of sharing the responsibility of regional security and stability. Secretary Austin noted US and Saudi shared commitment to countering Iran’s destabilizing activities and defeating violent extremist organizations in the region,” the Pentagon’s statement added.

US President Joe Biden’s administration revoked a terrorist designation of the Houthis introduced by former President Donald Trump in January.

Saudi Arabia maintained that it will continue to treat the Houthis as a terrorist organization regardless of whether the United States decided to designate the group as such, according to the Kingdom's permanent representative to the UN.

Biden also announced in February ending US support for the offensive operations of the Arab Coalition which intervened in Yemen 2015.

The Arab Coalition supports the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis.

Yemen’s Houthis have recently escalated aerial attacks on civilian areas in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh said a Houthi drone attack caused a fire in a civilian aircraft at an airport in Abha last week.

- With Agencies

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