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DUBAI: The Iran-backed Houthi militia should cease its attacks on Saudi Arabia and instead start negotiating towards a “political settlement,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, as Washington reiterated its commitment to the Kingdom’s defense interests.

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“We condemn the Houthi missile and drone attacks against Saudi Aramco’s facilities Ras Tanura Port and other civilian sites … These attacks are not acceptable. They are dangerous, they put the lives of civilians at risk, including the lives of US citizens,” Price said, as the Houthis escalated their drone attacks targeting oil facilities and civilians in the Kingdom.

Ras Tanura, one of the world’s biggest oil ports, was earlier targeted by an armed Houthi drone while a ballistic missile was shot down over an Aramco residential area just to the south in Dhahran.

Pentagon spokesperson John F. Kirby meanwhile reiterated the US’s commitment to defend Saudi Arabia’s territory and sovereignty: “We have security commitments with Saudi Arabia to help them defend their territory against attacks, which have as we’ve seen as recently as the weekend continue to happen.”

We take those responsibilities seriously,” Kirby said during a media briefing.

.@StateDeptSpox: We are and remain deeply concerned by the frequency of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. Attacks like these are not the actions of a group that is serious about peace. pic.twitter.com/ON2Ok0JIZt

— Department of State (@StateDept) March 8, 2021

The international community has widely condemned the attack, which Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar said “represent a threat to the stability of global energy supplies, affecting the entire global economy.”

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The failed Houthi attacks prompted yet calls for another arms embargo against Iran, after the earlier one expired in October, to prevent it from acquiring foreign weapons some of which end up in Tehran-backed organizations.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier told Arab News that the US administration had an obligation to push back against efforts to undermine Saudi Arabia, considering “the Iranian leadership understands how to drive a truck through American weakness” and that deterring the regime will require “a consistent, sound message” and “a willingness to impose a cost.”

Pompeo has strongly opposed the Biden administration’s lifting of the Houthi’s terrorist designation as “no one disputes that the Houthis are terrorists and no one disputes that the Iranians are underwriting them.”

“In the end, the Iranian leadership, the (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah (Ali Khamenei) and all those around him understand one thing: They understand power. And when they take action and they see weakness or they see appeasement or they have an expectation that there will be appeasement, they’re going to continue to act out,” Pompeo told Arab News.

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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