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US defence secretary in Saudi Arabia on unannounced visit

By AFP - Oct 21,2019 - Last updated at Oct 21,2019

RIYADH — US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper arrived Monday in Saudi Arabia, state television said, days after the Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the kingdom amid tensions with Iran.

Al Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.

On October 11, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh asked for reinforcements following a mid-September drone and missile attack on Saudi oil plants, which Washington blames on Iran.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defence batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.

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