US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at strengthening strained ties between the Kingdom and the US.
Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday. The two discussed a number of topics, including the potential for the normalization of ties between the Kingdom and Israel. The two agreed to continue discussions on the matter.
In a speech at the AIPAC conference on Monday, Blinken said that he would be discussing the normalization of Saudi-Israeli ties while in the Kingdom. “The United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We believe we can and indeed we must play an integral role in advancing it. Now, we have no illusions that this can be done quickly or easily.”
Blinken and the Crown Prince also “discussed deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields”, according to a State Department readout.
The visit also comes days after Riyadh announced it is slashing its oil supply, raising concern about rising gas prices in the US.
However, the most vital point of Blinken’s visit may be discouraging China’s influence in the Kingdom, Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at Washington-based think-tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) told Reuters.
“[Blinken should explain] why Chinese interests do not align with Saudi Arabia, and why closer relations in a strategic way inhibit closer relations with Washington,” he said.
Blinken’s visit was preceded by that of National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who traveled to the Kingdom exactly a month ago.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)