Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince
Blinken meets Saudi Crown PrinceReuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday there was "clear interest" on the part of Saudi Arabia in pursuing relations with Israel, AFP reported.

Blinken was speaking after meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a tent outside Al Ula, a historic oasis town. Blinken is in Saudi Arabia as part of a regional visit that saw him arrive in Israel late on Monday night.

"We talked about (Israeli normalization) actually on every stop, including of course here in Saudi Arabia," he told reporters before flying to Tel Aviv, adding, "And I can tell you this, there's a clear interest here in pursuing that."

Israel and Saudi Arabia appeared to be on track towards normalization before Hamas’ October 7 attack against Israel and the war in Gaza which followed.

Shortly after the start of the war in Gaza, sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia is putting the US-backed plans to normalize ties with Israel on ice.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan later said that he believes talks on normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia will resume immediately after the conclusion of the war in Gaza.

In November, US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters that Saudi Arabia is still interested in pursuing a normalization agreement with Israel “but obviously, we’re all focused, including our Saudi friends, on what’s going on in Gaza.”