Antony Blinken to Visit Saudi Arabia This Weekend Amid Regional Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, discuss normalizing ties with Israel and regional stability amid Gaza conflict.

Hadeel Hashem
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Antony Blinken to Visit Saudi Arabia This Weekend Amid Regional Talks

Antony Blinken to Visit Saudi Arabia This Weekend Amid Regional Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia this weekend, according to diplomatic sources. Blinken is expected to attend the World Economic Forum in Riyadh on April 28-29 and may hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines, potentially with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

During his visit, Blinken is anticipated to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other regional leaders. The talks will likely focus on a range of issues, including the attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on the Red Sea, as well as the potential for normalizing ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Last month, Blinken said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have made "good progress" in discussions on normalizing relations between the kingdom and Israel. However, those negotiations were put on hold following the deadly October 7th Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Saudi Arabia has stated that a Palestinian state remains the key to any such agreement, and that a treaty or security pact between Washington and Riyadh, as well as cooperation on Saudi Arabia's civilian nuclear program, would also be vital.

Why this matters: Blinken's visit to Saudi Arabia comes at a critical time as the U.S. seeks to prevent further escalation of the conflict in Gaza and promote regional stability. The potential normalization of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel could have significant implications for Middle East peace efforts.

Blinken's Saudi visit will follow his trip to China, where he will meet with business leaders, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and likely President Xi Jinping. The U.S. has called on China to help ease tensions in the Middle East and pressure the Iran-backed Houthis to stop their attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

The meeting between Blinken and the Saudi leadership is an opportunity for the U.S. to discuss the prospect of an eventual normalization with Israel, although progress on this front appears unlikely while the ongoing war in Gaza continues. Blinken has emphasized the importance of preventing further spread of the conflict, which has already resulted in significant civilian casualties.

Key Takeaways

  • Blinken to visit Saudi Arabia, attend World Economic Forum in Riyadh.
  • Talks likely to focus on Yemen conflict, Saudi-Israel normalization prospects.
  • U.S. seeks to prevent Gaza conflict escalation, promote regional stability.
  • Blinken's visit follows China trip, U.S. calls on China to ease tensions.
  • Normalization with Israel unlikely while Gaza war continues, Blinken says.