Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Blinken visits Saudi Arabia amid strained ties, Israel normalization in mind

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on a mission to steady Washington’s relationship with Riyadh after years of deepening disagreements on issues ranging from Iran and regional security to oil prices.

Blinken met with the kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MbS, and they “discussed deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields”, according to a State Department readout.

Blinken was also set to meet other top Saudi officials during his time in Riyadh, the capital, and the coastal city of Jeddah, in what will be Washington’s second recent high-level visit.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia on May 7.

The top US diplomat’s June 6-8 visit to the world’s largest oil exporter comes days after Riyadh pledged to further cut oil production, a move likely to add tension to a US-Saudi relationship already strained by the kingdom’s human rights record and disputes over America’s Iran policy.

The aims of the trip include regaining influence with Riyadh over oil prices, fending off Chinese and Russian influence in the region and nurturing hopes for an eventual normalization of Saudi-Israeli ties.

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