In Brief: Israel normalisation on agenda as Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia

Crown prince Mohamad bin Salman > US State Department, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will travel to Saudi Arabia this week, with improving ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia on the agenda for talks.

Blinken “will discuss US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues including economic and security cooperation”, the State Department said.

He will also take part in a Gulf Cooperation Council ministerial meeting “to discuss the growing cooperation with our GCC partners to promote security, stability, de-escalation, regional integration and economic opportunities across the Middle East”.

On Friday, deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Peninsula affairs, Daniel Benaim, reiterated the Biden administration’s support for expanding the Abraham Accords, which normalised ties between Israel and four Arab countries for the first time in 2020.

The deputy assistant secretary pointed to recent moves to open Saudi and Omani airspace to Israeli overflights as evidence of progress towards greater normalisation.

However, Benaim declined to outline how the Biden administration planned to broker normalisation between Israel and the Saudis given the hardline character of Israel’s right-wing government.