Saudi Arabia reiterates Biden’s commitments to its defence after Houthi attack

The statement from Riyadh comes after the interception at the weekend of an armed drone launched from Yemen

epa08988972 A Yemeni walks past a destroyed building targeted by a previous Saudi-led airstrike at a neighborhood a day after President Biden ended US support for the Saudi-led coalition, in Sanaa, Yemen, 05 February 2021. US President Joe Biden has announced on 04 February that he is ending US support for the Saudi’s offensive operations in Yemen.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
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Days after the US ended support for the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive operations in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthis, Riyadh continued to bring up President Joe Biden’s commitment to the kingdom’s defence and territorial integrity.

The Saudi Council of Ministers welcomed the US commitment to “co-operate with the kingdom to defend its sovereignty and address the threats against it", the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The council also affirmed Saudi “support for diplomatic efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution in Yemen".

Mr Biden announced on Thursday that the US would end offensive support for the coalition’s military operations, including a halt to intelligence sharing and a temporary freeze on arms sales to the kingdom.

The Biden administration is also conducting a review of US-Saudi relations.

But he also stressed that the US would continue to defend Saudi Arabia against external attacks from Iranian-backed forces, including the Houthis.

"At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries," Mr Biden said in his first major foreign policy address as president.

“We’re going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan seized on Mr Biden's promise to defend the kingdom and vowed to work with the new US envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes the United States’ commitment, expressed in President Biden’s speech today, to co-operate with the kingdom in defending its security and territory,” Prince Faisal said on Thursday.

“We look forward to working with Tim Lenderking to achieve our joint goal of a comprehensive political resolution in Yemen, as part of our shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous region.”

Mr Biden’s pledge to continue defending the kingdom was tested at the weekend when Riyadh announced on Sunday that it had intercepted an armed drone the Houthis launched from Yemen.

“As the president is taking steps to end the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia has endorsed a negotiated settlement, the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

"We call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks affecting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen, which only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people."

The Houthis on Monday resumed their offensive to try to capture the government-held city of Marib.