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US CENTCOM Chief Meets Saudi king - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi King Abdullah met on Tuesday with the visiting head of the US Central Command, Admiral William Fallon, the official SPA news agency reported.

It did not give details about their talks in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The CENTCOM chief had a separate meeting with Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is also defence minister, to discuss “issues of mutual interest,” SPA said.

Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia is a close US ally. According to Pentagon officials, several hundred US military personnel remained in the country after the US Air Force relocated its Gulf headquarters to the tiny neighbouring emirate of Qatar in 2003, ending a 13-year presence in the kingdom.

The Prince Sultan Air Base south of Riyadh was once home to the largest US air operations in the region with a state-of-the-art command centre, thousands of troops and squadrons of fighter jets, AWACS radar surveillance and tanker planes.

Pentagon officials said at the time that the military personnel staying behind would perform tasks such as training and tending to military sales.

The United States recently announced it has put together an arms package worth at least 20 billion dollars over 10 years for Saudi Arabia, saying the sale is meant to defend the kingdom against Iran, which Washington believes is working to acquire nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the charge.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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