Fri 02 Jun 2023 8:25 pm - Jerusalem Time

US Secretary of State Blinken will go to Saudi Arabia

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will travel next week to Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States with which relations are currently witnessing a sensitive stage, according to what the State Department announced Friday.

Blinken's visit to the Kingdom begins on the sixth of June and ends on the eighth of it, and it comes at a time when the two countries are leading mediation in Sudan without succeeding so far in imposing the commitment of several armistices between the two parties to the conflict.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Milner said in a statement that Blinken will discuss, during his talks with Saudi officials, "strategic cooperation" between the two countries on regional and bilateral issues.

On Wednesday, he will participate in a ministerial meeting to be held by the Gulf Cooperation Council, and on Thursday in a meeting of the international coalition to combat the Islamic State organization, to be held in Riyadh.

Blinken's visit comes a few weeks after a visit to the kingdom by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and about a year after a visit by US President Joe Biden in the summer of 2022, with mixed results.

Relations between Washington and Riyadh are very complex, as the Biden administration accuses the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of violating human rights and pushing to raise crude oil prices.

The case of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country's consulate in Istanbul in 2018 continues to weigh on relations, although the United States has largely turned the page.

Biden had called for a "reset" of relations with Saudi Arabia after the kingdom's decision last October to cut oil production.

However, the Saudi ally, to which Washington supplied large quantities of weapons, plays a fundamental role in the region, and American officials do not hide their desire for rapprochement with the Kingdom, despite the many differences.

It is expected that peace efforts in Yemen will occupy a large part of the talks that Biden will hold in Saudi Arabia, as well as efforts to normalize relations between the Kingdom and Israel within the framework of the Abrahamic Accords.

These agreements, which the administration of former President Donald Trump made great efforts to reach, allowed several Arab countries to normalize relations with the Hebrew state.

However, Riyadh requires recognition of a Palestinian state for normalization and requires the United States to provide security guarantees.

During a hearing before a congressional committee, Barbara Leaf, the senior official in the US State Department in charge of the Middle East file, acknowledged that there was a lot of "interaction" on this issue, noting a "gradual openness" between the Israelis and the Saudis, especially in the cultural and sports fields.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, is witnessing a period of calm since a UN-brokered truce was reached in April 2022.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition in Yemen in support of the government in the face of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.


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US Secretary of State Blinken will go to Saudi Arabia