U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said after talks in Saudi Arabia that Iran’s “potential for aggression” was a shared concern as he moved to bolster defense ties with Riyadh following a nuclear agreement with its arch-foe.
The conservative, mainly Sunni Muslim kingdom is engaged in a contest for power with Shi’ite Iran stretching across the region. It fears the nuclear deal will free Tehran from international pressure and sanctions, giving it more room to back allies in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.
Since Salman became king in January, he has tried to build a Sunni coalition against Iran’s regional allies, boosting support for rebels against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and waging war against Yemen’s Houthi militia.
In the talks, Salman and his defense minister reiterated their public support for the deal while voicing some reservations, like the need to properly implement the accord, Carter said.
He said discussions in Jeddah focused on advancing security ties, including in missile defenses, cyber, maritime security and special operations forces, following up commitments made by Gulf states at a summit at Camp David in May.
Carter sought to emphasize U.S. and Saudi concern about Iran, citing “malign activities in the region and potential for aggression”.