middle east

Saudi Arabia, US Discuss Gaza and Efforts to Stop Military Operations

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks in Jeddah on Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, touching on the latest regional and international developments, including the situation in the Gaza Strip and efforts to stop military operations there.

The meeting, which also discussed bilateral relations and areas of joint cooperation, was attended by Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and Dr. Musaed Al-Aiban, Minister of State, Member of the Cabinet and National Security Advisor.

Also present were the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Ratney, and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf.

In a separate meeting, bin Farhan discussed with Blinken the situation in the Gaza Strip and the city of Rafah, and the importance of an immediate ceasefire, in addition to efforts to ensure the entry of urgent humanitarian aid. They also reviewed ways to strengthen bilateral relations and joint cooperation in various fields.

In statements to Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath, Blinken said that a truce agreement in Gaza was imminent, explaining that he would discuss, during his current tour to the Middle East, the authority in Gaza after the war, adding that Washington had proposed alternatives to Israel’s operation in Rafah.

The US Secretary of State went on to say that Washington has a vision for a permanent peace in the region, which he will discuss with the six-party committee. He added that work on the maritime bridge to the Gaza Strip will begin in two weeks, noting that his country is still pressuring Israel to open the land crossings.

In a separate context, Blinken stressed that developments in the Red Sea represented a problem to the whole world, not just to the US, noting that the Houthis were targeting shipments that are destined to “their own people.”

He also said that Washington continues to exert pressure on Iran to use its influence on the group to stop its attacks on ships.

Blinken is scheduled to visit Cairo on Thursday, the second stop of his Middle Eastern tour, where he is expected to meet Arab foreign ministers.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller announced that Blinken will also be visiting Israel to hold talks with Israeli officials about “the ongoing negotiations to secure the release of all hostages” and “efforts to increase the delivery of aid to Gaza.”

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