The US and Saudi defense ministers spoke over the phone on Thursday, according to the Pentagon, and they talked about the recent Houthi strikes in the Red Sea.
In a post on X, Prince Khalid bin Salman stated that he discussed bilateral relations and regional issues with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated, “Secretary Austin emphasized that Houthi aggression toward vessels transiting critical waterways poses risks to the free flow of commerce and the international shipping industry.”
Austin also underscored Iran’s “dangerous role” in advising, arming, and training the Houthis, Ryder added.
US officials have said there is a framework in place for a maritime task force to safeguard shipping lanes in the region and freedom of navigation following the recent Houthi attacks on commercial tankers.
Currently, a US-led task force is set up, but member nations take part in operations voluntarily. Details are being worked out as Washington gauges the interest of regional countries to increase their participation in the task force, which would be further developed, according to officials.
“Secretary Austin conveyed his desire to work with all nations who share an interest in upholding the principle of freedom of navigation and ensuring safe passage for global shipping,” Ryder said in a readout of Thursday’s call.
Prince Khalid traveled to Washington last month to meet with top Biden administration officials to discuss the war in Gaza and the prevailing security situation in Yemen.