US security adviser visits Saudi Arabia first under Biden

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Washington (AFP)

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser will visit Saudi Arabia in the highest-level talks since the administration took office, with the promise to recalibrate relations amid concerns over human rights, the White House announced on Monday.

Jake Sullivan will also visit the United Arab Emirates, another United States ally that had forged particularly close ties with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

The White House did not give details on the dates or nature of his message, but said Sullivan would be accompanied by officials including Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy to Yemen.

Biden, shortly after taking office in January, said the United States would reduce U.S. support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, which has contributed to what the United Nations is calling the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. world with more than half of the population dependent on aid.

But the Biden administration has been frustrated that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who already control Yemen’s capital Sana’a, have shown little interest in a ceasefire and are continuing an offensive for the city. key to Marib, with hundreds of deaths in September.

Biden in February also declassified intelligence on the gruesome murder of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul three years ago, then strangled and dismembered.

Intelligence said Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the operation. The Biden administration has refrained from imposing sanctions on him but has indicated he is unwelcome in Washington.

Unlike Biden, the previous administration had few qualms about dealing with Saudi Arabia, with Trump welcoming the oil-rich kingdom’s US arms purchases and sharing hostility towards Iran.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was due to visit Saudi Arabia earlier in September while in the region, but postponed his trip, citing timing issues.

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