U.S. is ‘not going wherever,’ as China and Saudi bolster ties

US President Joe Biden being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022.

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday refuted claims {that a} forthcoming go to by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia alerts America’s waning affect within the Middle East, insisting that the U.S. is “not going anywhere.”

Tim Lenderking, U.S. particular envoy for Yemen, mentioned that diplomatic visits by different world powers had been to be anticipated, however mentioned that the U.S. had asserted its dedication to the area following a go to by Biden in July.

“The major message that the president brought to the region is that the United States is not going anywhere,” Lenderking informed CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

Reports emerged Thursday that Xi is to reach in Saudi Arabia subsequent week for a gathering with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the Chinese premier’s first official overseas go to since 2020 — as Beijing and Riyadh search to consolidate ties. China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday neither confirmed nor denied the stories.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry and China’s Foreign Ministry weren’t instantly out there to remark when contacted by CNBC on Friday.

That Xi is anticipated to be met with all of the pomp and fanfare afforded to former U.S. President Donald Trump throughout his 2017 go to does little to enhance the optics of Biden’s go to, which was a low-key affair that critics say achieved little amid strained private ties between the 2 leaders. However, Lenderking insisted that the U.S. retains a “vital” presence.

“The United States is a vital partner to not only Saudi Arabia but each of the countries in the region,” he mentioned.

“America can be counted on to remain in the neighborhood as a support for the countries and their security. That is an American priority,” he added.

Yemen battle

Within that, Yemen — which has been devastated by a civil conflict since 2014 — is a key U.S. focus, Lenderking mentioned, whom Biden appointed as particular envoy to the nation final yr.

Lenderking mentioned that making progress towards resolving the battle had been a significant accomplishment for Biden throughout his go to final month. That included convincing Saudi Arabia to increase and strengthen a U.N.-mediated truce and partaking in talks to finish the conflict.

As a consequence, the battle is now midway towards a decision, Lenderking mentioned.

Yemen has been battling civil conflict between the Yemeni authorities and the Houthi armed motion since 2014.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“I think we’re better than 50%; I wouldn’t have said that six months ago,” he mentioned. “We’ve got a moment to change the course of the conflict. This is the time to do it.”

He added that Yemen is a disaster by which in any other case adversarial relationships will be ignored, and welcomed collaboration with China and Russia in that space.

China “want to see progress in Yemen during their presidency on the Security Council,” Lenderking mentioned, referring to Beijing’s present position as head of the United Nations Security Council.

“I think that’s an important element where we can find commonality between us – China, Russia, the United States – working together on a political solution to the Yemen conflict,” he added.

Rising nuclear dangers within the area

Lenderking additionally famous that Iran, with whom the U.S. shares an extended historical past of fractured relations, might play a constructive position in resolving the battle in Yemen. However, he mentioned that that was not a prerequisite for a decision.

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It comes in opposition to the backdrop of continued talks between the U.S and Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

Asked whether or not he believed it was attainable to see nuclear weapons in nations such as Iran and probably different nations within the area, Lenderking replied: “I think that would be unfortunate. I hope that’s not the case.”

Clarification: This article has been up to date to replicate that Lenderking was requested whether or not he believed it was attainable to see nuclear weapons in nations together with Iran.

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