US Pentagon chief meets Saudi king
RIYADH - Agence France-PresseU.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met Saudi King Salman on Aprl 19, beginning a series of talks to reinvigorate the Riyadh-Washington alliance in the face of common adversary Iran. The retired four-star Marine general, accompanied by a U.S. delegation, was welcomed by Salman at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh, telling the monarch: “It’s good to be back.”
Mattis, who commanded troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, arrived in the kingdom on April 18 afternoon to listen to Saudi leaders and learn “what are their priorities,” an American defense official said earlier.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil. But ties became increasingly frayed during the administration of president Barack Obama.
Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting toward Riyadh’s regional rival Iran.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom “felt marginalized” during international negotiations on a nuclear accord with Shiite Iran, the defense official said.