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Saudis 'optimistic' about relations with US under Trump

Jubeir declined to comment directly over Trump's backing away from a two-state solution [AFP]

Date of publication: 17 February, 2017

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said his country expects to have a productive relationship with the Trump administration and is optimistic that US-Saudi cooperation can overcome challenges in the Middle East.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday his country was looking forward to working with the new US administration, adding that he was very optimistic about overcoming "the many challenges" in the Middle East.

"We are very very optimistic about our ability to resolve issues in the region," Jubeir said on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn, Germany.

Asked whether he was concerned that US President Donald Trump was backing away from a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jubeir declined to comment directly.

"We look forward to working with the Trump administration on all the issues in the region," he said.

On Wednesday, Trump dropped Washington's commitment to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, a key pillar of US Middle East policy through successive administrations.

Jubeir's comments came at the top of a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Bonn.

Both officials reviewed bilateral relations and the latest regional developments including Syria and Yemen.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition began airstrikes over Yemen in March 2015 to support the internationally recognised government of President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi in the fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

On Thursday, the coalition said it will probe reports of airstrikes targeting a gathering of female mourners near the capital Sanaa, which killed six women and one girl.

In a statement, the coalition said "there have been ongoing military confrontations for days between the Yemeni armed forces and Houthi militias" outside Sanaa. "We will verify these claims and provide media outlets with any information we obtain."

Tillerson did not respond to a reporter's question about the Trump administration's proposed travel ban for citizens of seven mainly Muslim nations, which includes Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, in addition to the entirety of the Gulf - in which Trump is thought to have strong business interests - was not included in the travel ban.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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