U.S. Top Diplomat Blinken To Visit Key Ally Saudi Arabia Next Week, Discuss 'Regional Cooperation'

By i24
Posted on 06/02/23 | News Source: i24

On Blinken's agenda will be cooperation on regional conflicts and issues, as well as a path toward normalization between the Saudi kingdom and Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia next week at a time of strained relations between Washington and its key Middle East ally, the State Department announced Friday.

Blinken’s June 6-8 trip will come as the United States and Saudi kingdom are seeking to broker a durable ceasefire between warring parties in Sudan. The top U.S. diplomat will discuss with Saudi officials U.S.-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation," the State Department said.

He will participate in a ministerial meeting on Wednesday with the Gulf Cooperation Council and in a meeting on Thursday in Riyadh of the coalition of countries fighting the Islamic State group.

Blinken's trip will also follow a recent visit to Saudi Arabia by White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and nearly a year after U.S. President Joe Biden visited the Gulf kingdom, with only mixed success in improving relations.

Ties between Washington and Riyadh have frayed over U.S. accusations of human rights abuses by Riyadh and unhappiness at Saudi Arabia's raising of oil prices in collusion with Russia to profiteer from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, rejecting U.S. pleas to cap prices.

But as Riyadh continues to play a powerful role in Middle East politics and Washington continues to arm its military, U.S. officials don't hide their hopes for a closer relationship.

On Blinken's agenda will be continuing efforts to end the fighting in Yemen – where Iran-backed rebel Houthis have battled Saudi-backed government forces for years – as well as convincing Riyadh to formally recognize and normalize relations with Israel as part of an extension to the Abraham Accords.