The visit comes amid tensions with Iran and Russia’s increasing role in the region.
US defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Tehran, and Russia’s attempts to consolidate influence in the region. For Esper, who took office in the summer, this is the first visit to the country as head of the Pentagon.
Tensions in US-Iranian relations have escalated since May 2018 when the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 international nuclear agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The United States sent troops to Saudi Arabia to bolster its defense capabilities after the September attacks on oil facilities.
During the visit, Esper will meet with representatives of the Saudi authorities and the US military.