US President Donald Trump Image Credit: AP

Washington: President Donald Trump told Saudi King Salman he would support the purchase of American military equipment to keep Saudi Arabia safe in a phone call Saturday, hours after the Saudi military said it intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Al Houthi rebels targeting an airport in Riyadh.

Trump and Salman discussed the “continuing threat of Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen” and the intercepted missile attack, according to a call readout provided by the White House. Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of countries against the militias, which overthrew Yemen’s government in 2015.

Trump thanked the king for prior military purchases, including a $15 billion investment in Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile systems and billions of dollars in other investments.

The discussion between the two leaders also came hours after an anti-corruption purge that led to the arrest of dozens of high-profile Saudis, including the billionaire founder of Kingdom Holding Co., Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, a nephew of King Salman. The call readout issued by the White House did not say if the leaders discussed the arrests, and White House officials have not responded to requests for comment about the arrests.

The two leaders did discuss Trump’s request, first issued in a late-night tweet, that the Saudis list the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. — better known as Aramco — on the New York Stock Exchange.

King Salman also expressed the kingdom’s condemnation of the recent terrorist act in New York, saying it contradicted religious values and human principles. He reaffirmed the kingdom’s readiness to assist in countering evil acts, and his country’s support for measures taken by the US to confront terrorism and preserve its national security.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the king stressed the importance of continuing to exert further international efforts to eradicate terrorism in all its forms and drying up its resources. He offered his condolences to the American people and the families of the victims.

Trump praised the role being played by the kingdom in spreading religious moderation and combating extremism.

— Bloomberg