Joe Biden
Joe Biden Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

US President Joe Biden spoke on Wednesday with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and told him the US is committed to supporting Saudi Arabia in the face of attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels.

A statement issued by the White House said the two leaders discussed “regional developments and issues of mutual concern, including Iranian-enabled attacks by the Houthis against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia.”

The President underscored the US commitment to support Saudi Arabia in the defense of its people and territory from these attacks and full support for UN-led efforts to end the war in Yemen,” the statement added.

The two also discussed Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Biden “noted his commitment to ensuring that Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon and briefed the King on ongoing multilateral talks to reestablish constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.”

“The two leaders discussed matters pertaining to the Middle East region and Europe and agreed that their teams would remain closely coordinated over the coming weeks and months. Both leaders further reiterated the United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to ensuring the stability of global energy supplies,”.

The Houthi rebels, which are backed by Iran, have regularly fired missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia since 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen to try to restore the government.

It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran denies it is backing the Houthis and has also denied Saudi Arabian accusations that Tehran provided the Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic capabilities.

On Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has long spoken out against the Islamic Republic’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.

During the negotiations between Iran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia and other major Sunni states expressed concern over a deal which would allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons – a position which placed them very close to Israel’s position on the matter.

Ultimately, however, Saudi Arabia's government announced that it welcomed the deal.

In December, King Salman said that Saudi Arabia was concerned about Iran's lack of cooperation with the international community on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, calling on Iran to change its "negative" behavior in the region and choose dialogue and cooperation.