update deskMiddle East

Mossad chief secretly visited DC to discuss Saudi deal

David Barnea met with the U.S. national security advisor at the White House ahead of his trip to Jeddah.

Mossad chief David Barnea at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 3, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Mossad chief David Barnea at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 3, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

The head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency secretly traveled to Washington nearly two weeks ago to discuss a deal with Saudi Arabia.

David Barnea met with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the White House ahead of the latter’s July 27 visit to Jeddah to discuss with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and senior Saudi officials the possibility of the kingdom joining the Abraham Accords, Axios reported.

Barnea also sat down with Middle East envoy Brett McGurk and Amos Hochstein, special presidential coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, who both joined Sullivan on the recent trip to Saudi Arabia, according to the report, which sourced two U.S. officials.

CIA Director Bill Burns also met with Barnea to discuss the Saudi initiative as well as the Iranian threat, one of the U.S. sources said.

“We continue to support normalization with Israel, including with Saudi Arabia, and obviously continue to talk to our regional partners about how more progress can be made,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told Axios, declining to comment specifically on the Barnea meeting. “It’s one effort we are pursuing toward advancing U.S. foreign policy goals for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous and stable Middle East region.”

Sullivan last visited Saudi Arabia on May 7, together with McGurk and Hochstein. Sullivan told MBS during that visit that the United States sees an opportunity for an Israel-Saudi deal by the end of the year, according to Axios, citing two U.S. officials who said that the White House wants a deal before President Joe Biden goes into full campaign mode.

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