U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet Wednesday with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council as part of his visit to Saudi Arabia.
He met earlier with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah where the State Department said he expressed thanks for Saudi Arabia’s help evacuating Americans from Sudan earlier this year.
“The two affirmed their shared commitment to advance stability, security, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond, including through a comprehensive political agreement to achieve peace, prosperity, and security in Yemen,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a readout of the meeting. “The secretary also emphasized that our bilateral relationship is strengthened by progress on human rights.
Miller said the meeting also included discussion of “deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields.”
Ahead of the trip, Blinken said Monday the United States “has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
Dating at least to the administration of former President Jimmy Carter, the United States has worked to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab nations, including Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
Blinken told a meeting of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC that part of his visit to Saudi Arabia would involve working toward boosting Israeli-Saudi relations.
“We believe that we can, and indeed we must, play an integral role in advancing it,” Blinken said. “Now, we have no illusions that this can be done quickly or easily.”
On Thursday, Blinken and bin Farhan will host a meeting of the 80-strong coalition of countries fighting Islamic State militants.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters