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U.S. is ‘not going anyplace,’ Center East envoy says, as China’s Xi anticipated to go to Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden being welcomed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022.

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday disputed claims {that a} forthcoming go to by Chinese language President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia indicators America’s waning affect within the Center East, insisting that the U.S. is “not going anyplace.”

Tim Lenderking, U.S. particular envoy for Yemen, stated that diplomatic visits by different international powers have been to be anticipated, however stated that the U.S. had asserted its dedication to the area following a go to by Biden in July.

“The foremost message that the president dropped at the area is that the USA is just not going anyplace,” Lenderking advised CNBC’s Hadley Gamble.

Reviews emerged Thursday that Xi is to reach in Saudi Arabia subsequent week for a gathering with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the Chinese language premier’s first official overseas go to since 2020 — as Beijing and Riyadh search to consolidate ties. China’s Overseas Ministry on Thursday neither confirmed nor denied the studies.

Saudi Arabia’s Overseas Ministry and China’s Overseas Ministry weren’t instantly accessible to remark when contacted by CNBC on Friday.

That Xi is anticipated to be met with all of the pomp and fanfare afforded to former U.S. President Donald Trump throughout his 2017 go to does little to enhance the optics of Biden’s go to, which was a low-key affair that critics say achieved little amid strained private ties between the 2 leaders. Nevertheless, Lenderking insisted that the U.S. retains a “important” presence.

“America is an important associate to not solely Saudi Arabia however every of the international locations within the area,” he stated.

“America will be counted on to stay within the neighborhood as a assist for the international locations and their safety. That’s an American precedence,” he added.

Yemen battle

Inside that, Yemen — which has been devastated by a civil warfare since 2014 — is a key U.S. focus, Lenderking stated, whom Biden appointed as particular envoy to the nation final yr.

Lenderking stated that making progress towards resolving the battle had been a serious accomplishment for Biden throughout his go to final month. That included convincing Saudi Arabia to increase and strengthen a U.N.-mediated truce and interesting in talks to finish the warfare.

Because of this, the battle is now midway towards a decision, Lenderking stated.

Yemen has been battling civil warfare between the Yemeni authorities and the Houthi armed motion since 2014.

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“I feel we’re higher than 50%; I would not have stated that six months in the past,” he stated. “We have got a second to vary the course of the battle. That is the time to do it.”

He added that Yemen is a disaster through which in any other case adversarial relationships will be neglected, and welcomed collaboration with China and Russia in that space.

China needs “to see progress in Yemen throughout their presidency on the Safety Council,” Lenderking stated, referring to Beijing’s present function as head of the United Nations Safety Council.

“I feel that is an vital component the place we are able to discover commonality between us – China, Russia, the USA – working collectively on a political answer to the Yemen battle,” he added.

Rising nuclear dangers within the area

Lenderking additionally famous that Iran, with whom the U.S. shares an extended historical past of fractured relations, may play a constructive function in resolving the battle in Yemen. Nevertheless, he stated that that was not a prerequisite for a decision.

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It comes in opposition to the backdrop of continued talks between the usand Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

Requested whether or not he believed it was attainable to see nuclear weapons in international locations similar to Iran and probably different international locations within the area, Lenderking replied: “I feel that might be unlucky. I hope that is not the case.”

Clarification: This text has been up to date to make clear that Lenderking was requested whether or not he believed it was attainable to see nuclear weapons in international locations together with Iran.

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