WASHINGTON (Reuters) -CIA Director William Burns held talks in Saudi Arabia with his counterparts and national leaders to reaffirm intelligence cooperation, a U.S. official said on Thursday, as the kingdom and its arch-rival Iran renew ties in a China-brokered deal.
China’s role in arranging the deal was seen by some experts as signaling a decrease in U.S. influence with Saudi Arabia amid tensions between Washington and Riyadh over a number of issues, including human rights and Saudi oil production cuts.
“Director Burns traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he met with intelligence counterparts and country leaders on issues of shared interests,” the U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
“The director reinforced our commitment to intelligence cooperation especially in areas of counterterrorism,” the official added.
The U.S. official did not say when Burns’ visit took place. The Washington Post, which first reported the visit, said the CIA chief was in Saudi Arabia earlier this week.
The United States and Saudi Arabia for decades have cooperated closely on counterterrorism and other intelligence matters.
Burns’ visit was announced as the kingdom’s foreign minister held talks with his Iranian counterpart in Beijing, the first time the regional rivals’ top diplomats have met in more than seven years.
(Reporting by Jonathan LandayEditing by Alistair Bell)