US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Monday and discussed the humanitarian needs in Gaza and the regional security issues. The meeting was part of Blinken’s four-nation tour of the Middle East to consolidate the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Blinken and the Crown Prince underscored the importance of addressing the humanitarian needs in Gaza, which has suffered from severe damage and casualties after 11 days of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks. The US has pledged $360 million in aid to the Palestinians, including $38 million for Gaza. The US has also urged other countries to contribute to the UN relief efforts and the reconstruction of Gaza.
The US and Saudi Arabia share the priorities of ending the violence and restoring stability in the Middle East, Blinken said in a statement after the meeting. He also thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s role in supporting the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire that came into effect on May 21.
Enhancing the regional security and cooperation
Blinken and the Crown Prince also discussed the regional security and cooperation, especially in the face of the threats posed by Iran and its proxies. They expressed their concern over the attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are backed by Iran. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the political solution to the Yemeni conflict and the protection of civilians.
The US and Saudi Arabia have a strong and long-standing strategic partnership, Blinken said, adding that the US supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy and modernize its society under the Vision 2030 plan. He also praised Saudi Arabia’s initiative to end the rift with Qatar and enhance the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians
Blinken and the Crown Prince also discussed the prospects of advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution. Blinken said the US appreciates Saudi Arabia’s support for the peace efforts and its engagement with the international community to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
Saudi Arabia has been a key player in the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel normalized relations with the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Saudi Arabia has also welcomed the Abraham Accords, which normalized the ties between Israel and four Arab countries, namely the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.