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Source: Reuters

Apr 12, 2023

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday and discussed Iran and steps aimed at ending the war in Yemen, the White House said.

The call comes after Beijing recently brokered a deal to restore relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the top regional powers in the Middle East, a process the United States was largely left out of.

The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in Beijing last week after agreeing to end their diplomatic rift following years of hostility that fuelled conflicts across the Middle East.

"Mr. Sullivan and Crown Prince Salman also discussed broader trends toward de-escalation in the region, while underscoring the need to maintain deterrence against threats from Iran and elsewhere. Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed President (Joe) Biden’s unwavering commitment to ensure Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon," the White House said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Gulf’s dominant Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim powers respectively, have said they would launch arrangements to reopen embassies and consulates within the two-month period stipulated in their deal brokered by China.

Beijing's role was seen by some experts as signalling a loss of influence by the United States with Saudi Arabia, amid tensions between the long-time allies over a range of issues, including human rights and Saudi oil production cuts.

Saudi and Omani delegations held talks with Houthi officials in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Sunday, as Riyadh seeks a permanent ceasefire to end its military involvement in the country's long-running war.

Yemen's war is seen as one of several proxy battles between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Houthis, aligned with Iran, ousted a Saudi-backed government from Sanaa in late 2014, and have de facto control of north Yemen.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Edwina Gibbs

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