NEW YORK - Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the “bold vision” re-shaping Saudi Arabia and improving women’s lives on Wednesday after two days of meetings on Iran and other regional problems.

“Saudis are optimistic about the future, and rightly so. The government has a bold vision for its economy and reforms are giving women new opportunity,” Royce said. “A country that utilizes only half its population can never realize its full potential. Empowering Saudi women will help unleash its economy.”

The California Republican met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading the “Vision 2030” plan to modernize the Kingdom’s society, create jobs and diversify its economy away from oil.

They also discussed efforts to tackle Tehran’s support for proxy militias in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen amid concerns in Washington and among its Middle Eastern allies of a growing crescent of Iranian influence.

“Of course, Saudi Arabia — and the Middle East as a whole — faces serious threats from Iran. In our productive meetings, we discussed efforts to apply more financial and diplomatic pressure against Iran’s missile program and its support for terror,” Royce said in a statement.

US President Donald Trump told the Europeans last month that they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws” in the 2015 international Iran nuclear deal or he would re-impose the sanctions Washington lifted as part of that pact.

Royce also addressed the Arab coalition’s fight against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels of northern Yemen, where fighting, hunger and disease have snowballed into what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“In Yemen, I’m encouraged that the flow of relief has improved, but more must be done to increase access to food, water and basic medicine,” Royce said. “The Iranian-backed Houthis are pushing this conflict into a third year and eight million innocent people are on the brink of starvation.”

Royce was accompanied by his committee colleague Paul Cook, another Republican. They also met with Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, Prince Khaled bin Salman, Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington, and a group of Saudi women entrepreneurs.

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