US Central Command welcomes Saudi Arabia into global maritime coalition

US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), poses for a picture during his visit to a military base in al-Kharj in central Saudi Arabia on July 18, 2019. – McKenzie pledged on July 18 to work “aggressively” to ensure maritime safety in strategic Gulf waters after a spate of attacks blamed on Iran. McKenzie’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes a day after the US House voted to block $8.1 billion in arms sales to the kingdom and other allies, in a move likely to be vetoed by President Donald Trump. 

WASHINGTON (Rahnuma): The US Central Command has welcomed Saudi Arabia into a global maritime security coalition.

The American defense force said it appreciated the Kingdom’s decision to join the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and expressed thanks for its active role in helping to preserve freedom of navigation, promote maritime security and de-escalate regional tensions.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie lauded Saudi Arabia’s lead on regional security matters and its commitment to preserving the free flow of commerce, which he described as a linchpin of the global economy.
“Threats to the freedom of navigation are an international problem requiring an international solution, and we are pleased that Saudi Arabia will be a part of that solution,” he added.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday joined the US-led military coalition to secure the Middle East’s key waterways for shipping.

The coalition, which includes Australia, Bahrain, and the UK, was set up to counter threats to vessels after a string of attacks against ships entering and leaving the Arabian Gulf. It aims to protect commercial ships and provide safe navigation in an operational area covering the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al-Mandab Strait, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf.

The Saudi move comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after a drone and missile attack at the weekend hit two key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The US has blamed Iran for the strikes along with a number of other attacks on shipping in or near the Strait of Hormuz in recent months.

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