DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone to Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday for the first time, Saudi state media said early on Saturday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud congratulated Blinken on taking up his new appointment last week and said the kingdom hopes to work with the United States to face common challenges and maintain regional stability, state news agency SPA reported.
The new administration of President Joe Biden said this week it will end U.S. support for a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen and indicated it would step up diplomacy to end the Yemen war through the appointment of a Yemen envoy. Washington also said it expects Riyadh to improve its human rights record.
The United States on Friday also said it intends to revoke a terrorist designation for Yemen’s Houthi movement – against which the Saudi-led coalition is fighting – in response to the country’s humanitarian crisis.
Blinken’s first call to a Gulf state since assuming his new role was to the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.
Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Frances Kerry