US confirms delegation in Saudi Arabia to discuss Israel normalization, Yemeni war
Biden administration seeking to 'deepen' Yemen truce, discuss normalization effort with Palestinian officials
A US delegation led by President Joe Biden's Middle East czar is currently in Saudi Arabia to address a wide array of regional issues, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
Brett McGurk is joined by Barbara Leaf, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking. The visit to Riyadh is taking place as the US seeks momentum on efforts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Riyadh has insisted that any deal include a component advancing efforts to establish a Palestinian state, concessions that Israel has so far flatly rebuffed.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the team is in Riyadh to discuss the normalization push as well as a "broader set of regional issues," including the ongoing war in Yemen. That conflict has further devastated what was already the poorest country in the Arab world before hostilities erupted nearly a decade ago.
Sullivan said the US is seeking to "deepen" an existing truce that has held for nearly two years "and get to a permanent peace in Yemen."
"That's one of the main reasons that Brett is there. He'll also be meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain in advance of his trip here next week. And then of course, he will speak to the Palestinians about the whole range of issues relative to the Israeli-Palestinian file," said Sullivan.
"Normalization will be one of the topics on the agenda, but it's not the main thrust of this trip. And like I said before, with respect to the phone calls Secretary (Blinken made today, we don't expect any imminent announcements or breakthroughs in the period ahead," he added, referring to a pair of telephone calls Secretary of State Antony Blinken made to Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier Tuesday.
During his call with Abbas, Blinken "reaffirmed U.S. support for measures to advance freedom and security and improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people. The Secretary and President Abbas discussed their support for a two-state solution and opposition to actions endangering its viability," said the State Department.
Spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken discussed similar matters with Netanyahu while also reaffirming "the strength of the bilateral partnership and U.S. commitment to Israel’s security."
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