U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday with the establishment of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Jerusalem on the agenda.
Speaking at the 2023 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Summit (AIPAC) in Washington on Monday, Blinken said the Biden administration aimed to “achieve significant historic progress to deepen and broaden the Abraham Accords.”
It is in America’s national security interests to promote Saudi-Israeli normalization, he said.
“We believe that we can and indeed we must play an integral role in advancing it. Now, we have no illusions that this can be done quickly or easily. But we remain committed to working toward this outcome, including on the trip I’m about to take this week to Jeddah and Riyadh for engagements with our Saudi and Gulf counterparts,” Blinken said.
While in the kingdom, the top U.S. diplomat is expected to meet with senior Saudi officials and possibly Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
His three-day trip to Saudi Arabia comes on the heels of White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s visit there on May 7. Sullivan said ahead of his trip that the U.S. was prioritizing normalizing relations, also calling it “a declared national security interest.”
Sullivan met with MBS in Jeddah during his visit, telling him that Washington sees an opportunity for an Israeli-Saudi deal by the end of the year.
In late May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with MBS to discuss normalization between the two countries.
Blinken on Wednesday will participate in a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial meeting and on Thursday he is scheduled to co-host a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh.