US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Monday that he had discussed the issue of default with Israel in Saudi Arabia and coordinating efforts for the post-war phase in Gaza. The current war is turning into a regional conflict.
The US minister's words came after meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at his winter tent on the outskirts of Al-Ula city, which includes UNESCO World Heritage sites.
“We literally talked about it at every stop (of the tour) in Saudi Arabia,” Bligen said of normalization before boarding the plane to Israel.
He added, “There is a clear interest in seeking to do so…but that requires ending the conflict in Gaza…and finding a practical way to establish a Palestinian state.”
Fighting between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip on October 7 disrupted efforts to reach a normal deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and has not joined the Abraham Accords signed in 2020 under US auspices between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
Riyadh has repeatedly criticized Israeli attacks on civilians in official statements, as the crown prince did before hosting a war-focused Arab-Islamic summit in Gaza.
Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday night, and the next day he will hold what are expected to be difficult discussions with Israeli officials as he seeks to emphasize the need to reduce Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza.
The US minister entered his fourth month in Turkey on his fourth tour since the outbreak of war in Gaza and has so far visited Greece, Jordan, Qatar and the Emirates.
Blinken confirmed on Monday that there was “broad agreement” among the leaders of the countries he visited on the need to ensure Israel's security, consolidate Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and establish a Palestinian state.
Blinken told reporters at Al-Ula airport, “Nobody I spoke to thought it would be easy…but we agreed to work together and coordinate to bring Gaza stability and recovery and bring the political path forward. Palestinians, and must work to achieve peace and security.” and long-term stability.
He emphasized that he also observed that “leaders are willing to make the necessary commitments to make difficult decisions to achieve these goals.”
“Crown Prince Blinken, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, stressed the importance of ending military operations, intensifying further efforts at the humanitarian level and creating conditions,” Saudi news agency “SPA” reported. “To restore stability and restore the path to peace to ensure that the Palestinian people enjoy their rights.” Achieving a legitimate and just and lasting peace.”
Blinken, on the other hand, discussed Yemeni Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea disrupting global trade with Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A statement released by the US State Department after the talks said Blinken and the Saudi prince “discussed efforts to reduce regional tensions, including curbing Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea”.
For weeks, the Houthis have been carrying out attacks with drones and missiles targeting ships they believe are linked to Israel or ships they believe are visiting Israeli ports.
Last week, 12 nations led by the United States warned that the Iran-backed Houthis could face unspecified consequences unless they immediately halted attacks on ships in the Red Sea.
The issue is particularly sensitive for the Saudis, who have been engaged in months of off-and-on talks with the Houthis to put the war in Yemen on the path to a solution.
In 2014, conflict erupted in Yemen. The Houthis took control of large swaths of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa. The following year, Saudi Arabia intervened, leading a military coalition in support of the government. The intensity of fighting has decreased significantly since a ceasefire was announced in April 2022, although its effects ended six months later.
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