President Trump spoke to King Salman, and both leaders “reaffirmed the strong U.S.-Saudi defense partnership”, according to a U.S. readout. Commenting on reports about U.S. plans to remove “two Patriot anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia along with a number of military personnel”, the U.S. Special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, stated: “it doesn’t mean that Iran is no longer a threat… Our troop levels go up and down depending on the circumstances, but the mission set is the same. Our mission is not at all changed. We’re standing with our partners and our allies in the region. We’re doing everything we can to protect American interests”. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently indicated that “those Patriot batteries had been in place for some time. Those troops needed to get back. They needed to reposition… this wasn’t either a recognition of a decreased threat [from Iran]”. “It’s not a decrease in our support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, he added. Pompeo further noted that the Iranians “can see that we still have ample capability to continue to exercise both our maximum pressure campaign and our deterrence in the region”.
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