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Trump, Saudi Prince Assail Iran Over Support For Yemeni Rebels


U.S. President Donald Trump (right) holds a defense sales chart with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the White House on March 20.

The White House and ally Saudi Arabia assailed Iran for its support for rebels in Yemen, while the Iranian supreme leader hit back in a speech saying the United States was not capable of creating stability in the region.

The White House said on March 21 that President Donald Trump and visiting Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman discussed the "threat" that Yemen’s Shi'ite Huthi rebels "pose to the region, assisted by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps."

"The leaders discussed additional steps to address the humanitarian situation and agreed that a political resolution to the conflict is ultimately necessary to meet the needs of the Yemeni people," the statement said, referring to a March 20 White House meeting.

It also said the crown prince thanked Trump for "American leadership in defeating" the extremist group Islamic State and "countering Iran’s destructive actions across the Middle East."

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting to counter the influence of mainly Shi'ite Iran, an ally of the Huthi rebels who deny any help from Tehran and say they are fighting a revolution against corrupt politicians and Gulf powers who are controlled by the West.

Trump praised U.S. defense sales to Saudi Arabia in his meeting with the powerful crown prince, who is likely to eventually succeed King Salman as leader of the Gulf kingdom.

'Disastrous Flaws' In Iran Deal

The crown prince also spoke with Trump about their perceived flaws with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the nuclear accord unless European allies and the U.S. Congress agree by May 12 to fix what he called its "disastrous flaws" and impose tough new restrictions aimed at curbing Iran's ballistic-missile development and its involvement in regional conflicts.

Saudi Arabia has opposed the deal since it was signed in 2015 by Iran and five world powers, saying it did not go far enough to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech televised live on March 21 that the United States was not capable of creating stability in the region, citing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan as an example.

He told a crowd in the northeastern city of Mashad in a Persian New Year message that the United States would not achieve its goals in the region.

Khamenei also accused Saudi Arabia of supporting the Sunni extremist group Islamic State, a charge Riyadh denies.

Iran "played a significant role in the defeat of takfiri groups in the region," Khamenei said, using a term Iranian officials use to refer to Sunni extremists.

The Americans "say they had a role in the defeat of [IS]. That's a lie,” he added.

With reporting by Reuters and IRNA

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