White House: China-Brokered Iran-Saudi Deal ‘Is Welcome’

On Friday’s broadcast of NBC’s “MTB Now,” White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby responded to the Chinese-brokered restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran by saying that “anything can lower tensions.” He’s welcome in the region,” and if the deal works, which they hope it does, “we’re welcome. We think that’s a good thing for the region.” And that President Joe Biden is “very comfortable with our leadership” in the Middle East.

Kirby said, “We welcome anything that can lower tensions in the region, Chuck. And if that can help us end that war in Yemen, if it can help the Saudi people feel more comfortable that they won’t be attacked by Houthi rebels backed by the Houthis.” Iran, we welcome that. We think that’s good for the region. I think it’s important for people to remember that one of the reasons Iran had to sit at the table was, in fact, the pressure they were feeling internally from their own people and outside from the rest of the world the way they were used to They were supporting Russia in Ukraine.”

He added, “We’ve certainly been aware of these conversations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have been keeping us fully informed on their diplomatic talks, as we keep them informed. So, no surprises there. And again, this — this arrangement, which brings these two countries, Chuck, back to where they are.” They were seven years ago, the opening of embassies and diplomatic relations. It really goes back to around 2016. And I think it’s also important to remember that it remains to be seen how sustainable this will be. We’ve seen Iran enter into agreements before, make commitments that they don’t actually honor. We actually hope that they will. We hope that this will calm tensions.”

Then host Chuck Todd asked, “I’m just curious, though, is it at all related to China playing world leader here and not us in the Middle East? I mean, it’s a little annoying.”

Kirby replied, “Look, there’s no sour grapes here. Again, if this thing has the effect that we want, that’s a good thing. And the President is very comfortable with our leadership in the Middle East, the partnerships we have there, the relationships, all the efforts we’re making to hold Iran accountable,” And to maintain a viable and credible military force in that region, and to protect our national security interests. We are very comfortable with our leadership position in this part of the world.”

He follows Ian Hanchett on Twitter @employee

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