Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Prince Khalid bin Salman: Saudi Arabia supports ‘maximum pressure' on Iran

Saudi deputy defence minister backed US policy in talks with visiting envoy Brian Hook

Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, is on a tour of GCC states excluding Qatar. AFP
Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, is on a tour of GCC states excluding Qatar. AFP

Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed Iranian aggression in the region with the visiting US special envoy for Iran and affirmed the kingdom's support for the America's policy of applying “maximum pressure" on Tehran.

Prince Khalid said he met special representative Brian Hook to “explore the latest efforts to counter hostile Iranian acts and continuous escalation that threaten the region’s security and stability”.

In a series of Twitter posts on Friday, the deputy defence minister, who previously served as ambassador to the US, said Saudi Arabia backed the US “maximum pressure campaign on Iran” in response to “continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism”.

Prince Khalid's tweets came after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, escalating tensions between the two countries. Tehran claimed the aircraft entered its airspace while the US said it was attacked over international waters.

The attack followed a series of explosions targeting oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran.

Addressing a press conference later, Mr Hook said Iran should respond to US diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force.

"Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force," Mr Hook told reporters.

"Iran is responsible for escalating tensions in the region. They continue to reject diplomatic overtures to de-escalate tensions."

The US envoy said the risk of a regional conflict in the Middle East would increase if Iran was not countered in Yemen.

“Iran’s efforts to use surrogates to attack Saudi Arabia and destabilise the region needs to be countered,” he said.

Prince Khalid said he had discussed with Mr Hook the “dangerous role the Iranian regime plays in Yemen", where Houthi rebels are fighting the internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led coalition.

In other tweets earlier this month, Prince Khalid said that for 40 years the Iranian regime has been “spreading chaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terrorist organisations including the Houthis”.

The Yemeni rebels have stepped up drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, damaging oil infrastructure and injuring dozens of people at the civilian airport in the popular mountain resort of Abha.

The US State Department said Mr Hook is visiting allies in the region to discuss Iran’s regional aggression” and share intelligence on the range of threats posed by Iran.

He is scheduled to also visit the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain in a week-long trip that began on Wednesday. Qatar, which has been critical of US sanctions on Iran, is the only Gulf Cooperation Council country that is not on Mr Hook’s itinerary.

Updated: June 21, 2019 04:52 PM

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