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First call between Saudi foreign minister and US secretary of state

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US Secretary of State Tony Blinken had his first phone call with Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan that addressed issues “of mutual concern”.

The Saudi press agency announced the call on Friday, which comes a week after Mr Blinken was confirmed as secretary of state.

Prince Faisal congratulated Mr Blinken on his appointment and reiterated Riyadh’s desire to work with Washington “on facing mutual challenges and maintaining security and stability in the region.”

The two also discussed issues of “mutual concern” but the Saudi readout did not specify what those issues were. By Friday evening, the State Department had not issued a readout.

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This was Mr Blinken’s second call to the Gulf region after a phone call with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed earlier in the week.

It also follows President Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday and his announcement that the US would halt support for the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

“This war has to end,” Mr Biden said in his address to State Department employees. “We’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.

“At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries.

“We’re going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”

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