US President Biden’s advisers Brett McGurk and Amos Hochstein are currently engaged in a secret visit to Saudi Arabia, Barak Ravid reported for Axios,
According to the report, McGurk and Hochstein are discussing increasing oil production, the Red Sea islands deal, further normalization steps with Israel, and President Biden's possible visit to Saudi Arabia.
The visit marks a possible thawing of relations between Saudi Arabia and the US, which have been strained under the Biden Administration. The US has blamed the Saudi government for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and pursued the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal over the objections of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Sunni Arab nations.
Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia reached a low point earlier this year when the Saudis refused the Biden Administration's request to increase their oil production to lower global oil prices and offset the loss of Russian oil and natural gas following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Ravid reported earlier this week that the Biden Administration has been quietly mediating among Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt on negotiations that, if successful, could be a first step on the road to the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The talks involve finalizing the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty, the sources said.
If an arrangement is reached, it would be a significant foreign policy achievement for the Biden Administration in the Middle East.