Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a direct challenge to Iran Saturday, spotlighting the strategic purpose of President Trump’s state visit to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Tillerson called on Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani to restore human rights to Iranians, end Iran’s support of terror organizations, and halt its ballistic missile testing.
“If Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do,” Tillerson said.
A centerpiece of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the first foreign trip of his presidency, is to push back on the threat that Iran poses to Saudi Arabia and other regional partners.
Tillerson said that he would likely speak to his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. “at the right time,” but that he has no current plans to do so.
“I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone who wants to talk and have a productive conversation,” Tillerson said.
The secretary described the U.S.–Saudi military and private sector deals announced Saturday as a “strong message to our common enemies.”
The military package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications, and cybersecurity technology.
Al-Jubeir, borrowing a favorite Trump meme, said that stronger U.S. ties will allow the region to “drain the swamps from which extremism and terrorism emanates.”