Saudi king approves hosting of USA armed forces

Saudi king approves hosting of USA armed forces

"King Salman gave his approval to host American forces", Saudi state agency SPA quoted the defence ministry as saying.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday agreed to host the United States troops in the country to increase joint cooperation in defence of regional security and stability in the region.

The move, agreed in conjunction with the kingdom, aims to boost regional security as tensions in the Gulf mount over Iran's standoff with the U.S. over sanctions and the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Tehran's seizure of two British-linked vessels in the strait of Hormuz on Friday.

The US troops were present in Saudi Arabia for 12 years, starting with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

The troops would be entering a region already heavily saturated with over 70,000 U.S. military personnel.

The US announcement of the deployment was expected to be made next week, according to CNN.

The Pentagon is sending 500 troops to Saudi Arabis and shifting other forces in the region in response to what it says is continuing threats from Iran.

Earlier in the day, CENTCOM announced that the USA armed forces have surveillance aircraft observing the situation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington also sent warships and a Patriot missile defence battery to the region, citing unspecified threats from Iran.

The kingdom has not hosted U.S. forces since 2003 when they withdrew at the end of the war with Iraq.

The move comes amid heightened tensions with Iran over the safety of shipping lanes in the Gulf. Just yesterday, Iran seized a United Kingdom oil tanker in the Gulf and briefly detained another in the Strait of Hormuz.

According to the CNN report, the site for the deployment of the United States troops - the Prince Sultan Air Base - was chosen because it is located in a remote area that would take longer for Iranian missiles to reach.

The US has also called on Iran to release a Panamanian-flagged tanker and 12 of its crew, which was seized by Revolutionary Guards on Sunday during a naval patrol.

Iran's semi-official news agency, Fars, reported the ship was briefly detained in the strait of Hormuz and given a notice to comply with environmental regulations before being allowed to continue on its way.

Trump reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the deal in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Last month, Iran downed a U.S. surveillance drone that it said had violating Iranian airspace.

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