The Pentagon Monday reaffirmed that it would maintain its robust relationship with Saudi Arabia, days after a report was released by the Biden administration accusing the Saudi government of being implicit in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi officials and Gulf allies have vehemently rejected the US intelligence report as baseless.
“The military-to-military relationship that we have with Saudi Arabia, it remains robust as it should remain robust,” Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby told reporters, refusing to be drawn into a political argument.
Kirby said he would leave political questions and issues for the White House or State Department to respond to.
“Broadly speaking … we recognize that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner in the region that we have obligations and commitments to help defend itself against attacks, which continue to happen from across the southern border with Yemen,” he said.
“We take those responsibilities seriously; we do have a strong military relationship with Saudi Arabia, and I would expect you to see that that relationship continues for all the right reasons,” Kirby added.
The Biden administration has come out swinging since its first days in office and said it would recalibrate Washington’s relationship with Riyadh. It continues to harden its stance on Saudi Arabia after making several decisions to soften the previously stern tone against Iran and its proxies.
The Pentagon admitted that Biden and his team wanted to alter the US relationship with Saudi Arabia.
But Kirby was quick to point out that there would be “no changes” to the military relationship between the two.
“Militarily speaking, we have obligations there in Saudi Arabia, and we’re going to continue to meet those.”