Pentagon chief arrives in Riyadh as Iran tensions simmer and Russia makes moves

by Reuters
Monday, 21 October 2019 15:00 GMT

RIYADH, Oct 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his first trip to the key Middle East ally since taking the job this summer, as tensions simmer between Washington and Tehran, and Russia seeks to increase its regional influence.

U.S.-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of sanctions.

The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the kingdom's defences after attacks last month on its oil facilities.

Esper will meet Saudi leaders and American troops while in the kingdom.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alison Williams)

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