The Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm a retired four-star general, John Abizaid, as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling an important diplomatic post that has been vacant for more than two years.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed US President Donald Trump's pick for ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a position that has remained vacant since Trump took office.
John Abizaid, a former US general, was confirmed by a 92-7 vote, about five months after being nominated by the president amid heightened tensions with Saudi Arabia.
Trump nominated Abizaid for the position in November 2018.
The issue of the diplomatic vacancy hit a peak when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered.
The journalist went missing shortly after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October. The Saudi government initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts before acknowledging he had been killed inside the diplomatic facility, blaming the death on a team of rogue operatives who were carrying out a botched rendition operation.
The official Saudi narrative has been met with international scepticism as well as stern criticism from US lawmakers over the possibility that Khashoggi's murder could have been carried out without the explicit consent of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The State Department on Monday designated 16 Saudi officials for their roles in the murder of Khashoggi.
The lack of an American ambassador to Riyadh played into the strain in the US-Saudi relations, even though Trump shied away from placing any blame on the Saudi crown prince.
The last person to serve as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia was Joseph Westphal, who served in the administration of former President Barack Obama, before leaving in 2017.
Abizaid previously served as the head of US Central Command, where he led military campaigns in Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Iraq.
He stressed at a Senate confirmation hearing last month the US-Saudi relationship is much bigger than Washington's relationship with bin Salman and he wants to help the kingdom move forward.