Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince
Blinken meets Saudi Crown PrinceReuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who began a trip to the Middle East which will include a stop in Israel, met on Monday in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

“The Secretary underscored the importance of addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza and preventing further spread of the conflict. The Secretary and Crown Prince continued discussions on regional coordination to achieve an enduring end to the crisis in Gaza that provides lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement.

He added that the two “discussed the importance of building a more integrated and prosperous region and reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

“The Secretary and Crown Prince also discussed the urgent need to reduce regional tensions, including a cessation of Houthi attacks undermining both freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and progress on the Yemen peace process,” concluded Miller.

Blinken’s current Middle East trip is his fifth visit to the region since the start of the war in Gaza on October 7.

His meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince follows a report last week that Saudi Arabia would be willing to accept a political commitment from Israel to create a Palestinian state, rather than anything more binding, in a bid to get a defense pact with Washington approved before the US presidential election.

Until now, Saudi officials have insisted that statehood for the Palestinian Arabs must be part of any process which concludes in the kingdom recognizing Israel and normalizing ties.

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 Arabia's 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.

Blinken, who met the Saudi Crown Prince during his most recent visit to the region, said after the meeting there was "clear interest" on the part of Saudi Arabia in pursuing relations with Israel.