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Saudi-US ties stronger than ever; countries see eye-to-eye on Iran, Saudi oil minister says

March 17,2017 05:34

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Thursday said relations between his country and the United States have never been better, and the two nations are fully aligned in confronting Iranian aggression. The minister made his comments during a visit to ...



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Nezar Balout | AFP | Getty Images
Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih speaks to reporters during the 10th edition of the World Future Energy Summit on Jan. 16, 2017.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Thursday said relations between his country and the United States have never been better, and the two nations are fully aligned in confronting Iranian aggression.

The minister made his comments during a visit to Washington D.C. with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young and highly influential royal at the helm of Saudi Arabia's economic diversification and military.

Falih's comments mark a turning of the page following a rocky relationship between the Kingdom and the Obama administration, which negotiated an historic multilateral deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia's chief geopolitical rival in the Middle East.

Falih said the visit solidified the "importance" of the relationship and allowed for a better understanding with the new administration on a broad range of issues. Falih also serves as chairman of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

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President Donald Trump wasted little time ratcheting up pressure on Iran. His administration put Iran "on notice" shortly after he entered the White House and imposed additional sanctions on entities involved in Tehran's ballistic missile program.

While Obama kept economic pressure on Iran, his administration ultimately worked out a deal with five other nations that lifted international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for Iranian leaders accepting limits on their nuclear program. That allowed Iran to sell its vast oil supplies more freely and solicit investment in its energy industry, increasing competition with top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

Obama and the Saudis also butted heads over Riyadh's military campaign in neighboring Yemen. The United States limited military support for the Saudi-led coalition due to Washington's concerns about high civilian casualties and humanitarian crises touched off by the conflict, Reuters reported.

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Falih said the relationship has faced "challenges" in the past few years.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he and Prince bin Salman had discussed fighting the Islamic State and "confronting Iran's destabilizing regional activities" during a meeting on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Falih reiterated Saudi Arabia's interest in investing in U.S. infrastructure, a pillar of Trump's agenda. The president has backed Saudi plans to make investments into the United States that could total $200 billion, the Financial Times reported.

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Asia: News,James Mattis,Donald Trump,Iran,Saudi Arabia,business news

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