Lloyd Austin commits to Saudi Arabia's self-defence in call to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

US secretary of defence discusses regional security and efforts to end the war in Yemen with Prince Mohammed

epa09215485 Armed Houthi supporters take part in a rally protesting against Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, in Sana’a, Yemen, 20 May 2021. In response to days of violent confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem, various Palestinian militant factions in Gaza launched rocket attacks since 10 May that killed at least ten Israelis to date. Gaza Strip's health ministry said that at least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, were killed in the recent retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin spoke by phone to Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defence Mohammed bin Salman for the second time since taking office.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the two men discussed regional security and “particularly efforts to end the war in Yemen” during the call on Wednesday.

Mr Austin emphasised the "US commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory and people", the Pentagon said.

"Secretary Austin noted Saudi Arabia’s recent successes in defeating Houthi attacks on the kingdom and discussed ongoing bilateral efforts to improve Saudi Arabia’s defences,” it said.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched numerous drone attacks that were thwarted by Saudi-led coalition forces.

The Pentagon described Riyadh as an important “pillar in the regional security architecture” and renewed US commitment “to [Saudi Arabia's] self-defence".

US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking on his fifth trip to the region, was scheduled to meet Saudi and Gulf officials in the hope of brokering a ceasefire in the country.

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