US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, state media said on Friday, days after the White House said it would deal with the king, not his heir, and US officials would engage their counterparties in the kingdom.
Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Defense Minister, reviewed bilateral relations with Austin, especially in defense cooperation, state news agency SPA said.
Austin “reaffirmed the importance of the strategic defense partnership between the two countries, and said the United States was committed to helping Riyadh defend itself, condemning attacks” launched into the kingdom by Yemeni allied forces, the agency said.
Austin said in a statement he had a ‘productive’ call.
“We discussed the continued commitment to the 70 year US-Saudi security partnership, and I’m looking forward to working together to achieve regional security & stability,” he said.
US President Joe Biden said this week he plans to recalibrate US relations with Saudi Arabia and will conduct diplomacy through Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz rather than his powerful son the crown prince, widely referred to as MbS.
Biden is returning to “counterpart to counterpart” engagement, the White House said.