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NEWS | April 7, 2015

Leaders reaffirm US-Saudi Arabia defense ties

By U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 - Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke by telephone with Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman Monday and praised the countries' strategic relationship, Pentagon officials said in a written statement.

Carter underscored the U.S. commitment to the region and Saudi Arabia's security, emphasizing the importance of limiting civilian casualties when conducting airstrikes, the statement said.

"The two leaders agreed on the need to work toward a political solution in Yemen, and they discussed the importance of continuing to combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula," the statement said. "They also promised to collaborate closely over the next several weeks to address security issues in the region."

Before Congress last month, the U.S. Central Command commander discussed Saudi Arabia's role in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, saying that their participation in air operations in Syria and support of the Syria train and equip mission has paved the way for other Arab nations to join coalition efforts to counter ISIL.

During his posture statement March 26 to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III also spoke to Saudi Arabia's role in broader regional security. "Recognizing the need for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf, the Saudis assumed command of the Gulf Maritime Security Task Force for the first time this year. Their leadership is critically important in demonstrating the cohesion of the Combined Maritime Forces generally and the Gulf Cooperation Council nations in particular. Of note, the Saudis have taken a lead role in reconciling the Gulf States. Looking ahead, our continued support of advanced Saudi defense competencies and further improvement in U.S.-Saudi military interoperability are expected to yield positive impacts, which will in turn contribute to greater stability in the region and beyond."

(DoD News, Defense Media Activity, contributed to this report.)