17:28 GMT +316 October 2019
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    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes part in a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019.

    Saudi Defence Ministry Green Lights US Military Reinforcements - SPA

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    US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper earlier informed the kingdom of the latest deployment, which, together with other deployments and air defence teams would bring the total number of US servicemembers in Saudi Arabia to 3,000.

    A source in the Saudi Defence Ministry said Saturday, cited by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), that Riyadh had agreed to receive additional reinforcements for defense forces and equipment, adding that the United States joins the Saudi government in maintaining regional security in the Middle East.

    The Pentagon has said that the reinforcements are prompted by "recent attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", referring to the drone attacks on two major Aramco oil plants in Abqaiq and Khurais on 14 September. As a result, Saudi Arabia suspended the production of 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, or over half of its total daily output.

    Yemen's Houthi movement has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the United States has put the blame on Iran. Tehran has denied all claims of involvement.

    US President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that Riyadh, at his request, would pay for the deployment of additional US troops.

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud said earlier in the interview with CBS that a wider conflict with Iran would cause crude prices to spike to "unimaginably high numbers" and potentially collapse the global economy. The crown prince also said he preferred a political and peaceful solution to tensions with Iran over the military option. 

    Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as in the Gulf region have heightened in the wake of several attacks on oil tankers. In the most recent incident on Friday, an Iranian-owned tanker had been set on fire by an explosion off the Saudi port of Jeddah.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran has always been ready to hold direct talks with Saudi Arabia or negotiating through intermediaries, referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s plan for achieving peace in the Persian Gulf through dialogue, dubbed the 'Hormuz Peace Endeavor' or HOPE.

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