Wed, 04 Oct 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Saudi Arabia this week for talks on security and economic issues and is expected to meet with officials, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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 back at least to the administration of former U.S. 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."

Blinken's schedule includes a ministerial meeting Wednesday with the Gulf Cooperation Council to discuss promoting "security, stability, de-escalation, regional integration, and economic opportunities across the Middle East," the State Department said.

On Thursday, Blinken and his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan co-host a meeting of the 80-strong coalition of countries fighting the Islamic State group.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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