US President Joe Biden delivered a speech during his first visit to the State Department on Thursday, touching upon a range of issues pertaining to Saudi Arabia, Russia and China among others.
In a reversal of the Donald Trump administration’s foreign policy, Biden said the US was ending its support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen but added Washington will continue to help Riyadh defend its sovereignty and territory.
“This war has to end,” he said. “To underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales.”
Saudi Arabia, accompanied by its allies including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been leading a war against Yemen since March 2015 with the aim of bringing the former pro-Riyadh government back to power.
The war has also been accompanied by an all-out siege of the impoverished country. It has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and turned Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Biden administration has already said the US suspended weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE which were authorized by former President Trump.
Biden, who took office on January 20, had pledged in his campaign to reassess ties with the Saudi kingdom.
Days of US ‘rolling over’ in face of Russia over
Biden also said Thursday he had told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that “the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s” activities are over.
During a phone call with Putin last week, Biden said he had raised what he called a host of US concerns, including Moscow’s alleged election interference, its alleged bounties to Taliban insurgents for killing American troops and Ukraine.
“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest and our people,” Biden said.
American intelligence agencies claimed Moscow had meddled in the 2016 US presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.
Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations.
Also, The New York Times said in a report last year, that a top-secret unit within the Russian military intelligence, the GRU, allegedly offered monetary rewards to Taliban-linked militants who would kill US troopers in Afghanistan last year. Other outlets have since carried reports about the allegation.