19 May 2024, 12:04

Saudi crown prince, US national security advisor meet for talks

RIYADH, May 19, 2024 (AFP) - Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US National
Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Saudi Arabia's eastern city of Dhahran
to discuss a "semi-final" version of strategic agreements between the two
countries, official Saudi media reported on Sunday.

The agreements are considered a major part of Washington's efforts to bring
Riyadh around to recognising the state of Israel for the first time --
efforts complicated by the ongoing war in Gaza.

Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de facto ruler, and Sullivan discussed "the
semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the Kingdom and
the United States of America, the work on which is close to being completed",
according to Saudi state media.

The two sides also discussed "what is being worked on between the two sides
on the Palestinian issue to find a credible path towards a two-state

The talks also touched on "the situation in Gaza and the necessity of
stopping the war there, and facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid".

Sullivan is scheduled to visit Israel later on Sunday for talks about the
war, according to the White House.

The Biden administration has been seeking for some time to reach an agreement
under which Saudi Arabia would recognise Israel in exchange for a stronger
security relationship with Washington, which is already its most important
security partner.

The Saudis are also bargaining hard for help developing a civilian nuclear

Last September, before Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the
war in Gaza, Prince Mohammed said in an interview with the US network Fox
News that "every day we get closer" to a deal to normalise ties.

But those efforts have been severely damaged by the more than seven months of
fighting in Gaza and the rising civilian toll there.

The October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly
civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,386
people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Hamas-run
territory's health ministry.

Since the outbreak of the war, Saudi officials have said that relations with
Israel are impossible without steps toward recognising a Palestinian state,
something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long opposed.

It is unclear whether Riyadh and Washington will move forward with their
agreements, as Saudi Arabia and Israel have not reached a normalisation
agreement, according to analysts.

But high-level talks about what Saudi Arabia wants from the United States
have continued.

During Blinken's last visit to Riyadh in April, he and his Saudi counterpart
said that a final agreement on the US-Saudi component of the deal was close.

  • Latest News
  • Most View