Pentagon chief meets Saudi king after troop deployment

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper discussed "strategic co-operation" with Saudi King Salman Tuesday (October 22nd), shortly after Washington ordered thousands of soldiers to the kingdom as tensions fester with Iran, AFP reported.

The meeting in Riyadh, where Esper arrived late Monday after an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, also discussed defence issues and the current situation in the region, the official SPA news agency said.

On October 11th, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following a mid-September drone and missile attack on Saudi oil plants, which Washington blames on Iran.

Esper has said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defence batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed to the kingdom since last month.

The September 14th attack knocked out two major facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais, roughly halving Saudi Arabia's oil production.

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