Mon, 25 Sep 2023

Blinken, Saudi Leaders Discuss Terrorism, Yemen, Sudan Conflict

Voice of America
08 Jun 2023, 06:06 GMT+10

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Wednesday with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council as part of his visit to Saudi Arabia.

The State Department said the U.S. and Saudi diplomats discussed a range of concerns between the two countries as well as regional and global issues.

'Secretary Blinken and the foreign minister resolved to continue to work together to counter terrorism, to support efforts to bring about a lasting peace in Yemen, and to promote stability, security, de-escalation and integration in the region," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. "The two sides pledged to continue their strong cooperation to end the fighting in Sudan."

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have hosted talks in Jeddah on the Sudan conflict but could not broker a lasting cease-fire between warring factions.

Another State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, said the U.S. continues to believe "that a diplomatic solution is what is needed to resolve a conflict, not a military one. We've continued to press both sides. We have imposed visa restrictions, levied economic sanctions, updated our business advisories, and we stand ready to take further action as well."

"We remained deeply engaged," Patel said. "But the formal resumption of talks has not yet taken place."

Blinken met earlier with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah where the State Department said he expressed thanks for Saudi Arabia's help evacuating Americans from Sudan earlier this year.

'The two affirmed their shared commitment to advance stability, security and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond, including through a comprehensive political agreement to achieve peace, prosperity and security in Yemen,' Miller said in a readout of the meeting. 'The secretary also emphasized that our bilateral relationship is strengthened by progress on human rights.

Miller said the meeting also included discussion of 'deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields.'

Ahead of the trip, Blinken said Monday that the United States 'has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia.'

Dating at least to the administration of former President Jimmy Carter, the United States has worked to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab nations, including Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Blinken told a meeting of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC that part of his visit to Saudi Arabia would involve working toward boosting Israeli-Saudi relations.

'We believe that we can, and indeed we must, play an integral role in advancing it,' Blinken said. 'Now, we have no illusions that this can be done quickly or easily.'

On Thursday, Blinken and Prince Faisal will host a meeting of the 80-strong coalition of countries fighting Islamic State militants.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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