Washington - Retired four-star Army General John Abizaid, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said on Wednesday that Daesh has been “nearly vanquished on the ground,” but remains a “potent threat” to the United States and its allies.

Abizaid stressed the importance of the US-Saudi relationship.

The US hasn’t had an ambassador to Riyadh since Trump took office, even as the president made ties with the kingdom a central part of his foreign policy strategy. His first trip abroad as president was to Saudi Arabia, and he has counted on the kingdom to aid in his efforts to isolate Iran.

In addition to his role overseeing Central Command, Abizaid’s career included tours as a commandant of the US Military Academy at West Point. He’s now a security consultant and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

“In the long run, we need a strong and mature partnership with Saudi Arabia,” Abizaid said at his Senate confirmation hearing. “It is in our interests to make sure that the relationship is sound,” he said.