US Secretary of State Blinken visits Saudi Arabia to steady bilateral relations

Blinken and the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields

By Reuters

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Reuters
Reuters

Published: Wed 7 Jun 2023, 7:41 AM

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday on a mission to steady Washington's relationship with Riyadh, after years of deepening disagreements on issues ranging from Iran and regional security to oil prices.

Blinken met with the kingdom's de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MbS, and they "discussed deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields", according to a State Department readout.


Blinken was also set to meet other top Saudi officials during his time in Riyadh, the capital, and the coastal city of Jeddah, in what will be Washington's second recent high-level visit.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia on May 7.


The top US diplomat's June 6-8 visit to the world's largest oil exporter comes days after Riyadh pledged to further cut oil production, a move likely to add tension to a US-Saudi relationship.

The aims of the trip include regaining influence with Riyadh over oil prices, fending off Chinese and Russian influence in the region and nurturing hopes for an eventual normalisation of Saudi-Israeli ties.

Speaking at the pro-Israel lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday, Blinken said Washington had "a real national security interest" in advocating for the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but cautioned that it will not happen quickly.

Discouraging a closer Saudi-Chinese relationship is probably the most important element of Blinken's visit, said Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at Washington-based think-tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

"[Blinken should explain] why Chinese interests do not align with Saudi Arabia, and why closer relations in a strategic way inhibit closer relations with Washington," Goldberg said.

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