Blinken to visit S/Arabia, discuss ‘strategic cooperation’
Foreign News

Blinken to visit S/Arabia, discuss ‘strategic cooperation’

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will visit Saudi Arabia next week, his first trip to the kingdom attend Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) talks.

Blinken is making his first trip, starting on June 6, since Tehran and Riyadh agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations.

Beijing reportedly brokered the agreement.

The Department of State said, on Friday, Blinken will meet with Saudi officials and attend GCC talks during his visit.

Blinken will “discuss US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues.

“He will also discuss other bilateral issues, including economic and security cooperation”, the department said in a statement.

He will also co-host a meeting for the global coalition against ISIL (ISIS).

The meeting will “address continuing threat of ISIS and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to ensure its enduring defeat”.

U.S. officials have repeatedly asserted their commitment to the alliance with Saudi Arabia and to the kingdom’s security.

Since Riyadh’s normalisation agreement with Tehran, they have also cautiously welcomed the rapprochement.

“From our perspective, anything that can help reduce tensions, avoid conflict and curb dangerous actions by Iran is a good thing,” Blinken said in March after the deal was announced.

Recently, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been cooperating in Sudan.

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They have pushed for a ceasefire between the African country’s warring sides.

Friday’s statement announcing Blinken’s visit did not mention Yemen.

Washington says Yemen has advocated for an end to the years-long conflict pitting Saudi Arabia and its partners against the country’s Houthi rebels, who are allied with Iran.

Saudi Arabia and the Houthis engaged in direct talks in April.

The talks has led to a prisoner swap deal, after the Kingdom’s agreement with Iran.

Earlier this week, Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, told U.S. senators during a briefing that the Iranian-Saudi deal is merely a “detente”.

“It’s not a reconciliation, a big rapprochement or a full normalisation,” Leaf said.

The two countries had agreed to a full normalisation of relations and resumption of diplomatic ties.

Leaf also downplayed China’s role in securing the deal.

She said that Chinese did not brokered the agreement; “they hosted it”.

“The Iranians and the Saudis did all of the agreements and discussions themselves,” she said.

Leaf added that the deal primarily focused on Yemen, as Saudis push for wider calm in the region to “pursue their socioeconomic modernisation projec”.


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