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U.S. national security adviser meets with Saudi crown prince over security deal: NPR

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2024.

Susan Walsh/AP

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Susan Walsh/AP

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2024.

Susan Walsh/AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — President Joe Biden’s national security adviser met Sunday morning with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss what the kingdom described as the “semi-final” version of a extensive security agreement between countries.

The Saudi Press Agency’s announcement comes as the strategic agreement was broken after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage in the Gaza Strip .

Since then, a punitive Israeli airstrike campaign and ground offensive have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, endangering the security agreement that provided for diplomatic recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia for the first time since its founding in 1948.

Saudi state media has not released any images of Jake Sullivan and Prince Mohammed meeting in Dhahran, a city in the kingdom’s far east that is home to the state-owned oil giant, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. known as from Saudi Aramco.

“The semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the Kingdom and the United States of America, which are almost being finalized, as well as the works on which both sides in the Palestinian issue are working to find a way forward credible, were discussed”, “indicates the press release published at the end of the talks.

This includes “a two-state solution that meets the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and “the situation in Gaza and the need to stop the war there and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid”, adds the communicated.

Saudi Arabia has long called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state along Israel’s 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, this could prove untenable for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government depends on the support of hard-liners who oppose a two-state solution and support Israeli settlements on land the Palestinians want. for this state.

The White House acknowledged Sullivan’s trip and the fact that he will next travel to Israel, where he is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Sunday. However, the United States made no immediate statement on the discussions, saying only that they would focus “in particular on the war in Gaza and ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region.” .

Saudi Arabia has long relied – like other Gulf Arab countries – on the United States to guarantee the security of the entire Middle East, as tensions over Iran’s nuclear program in recent years have escalated. in a series of attacks. The proposal currently being discussed would likely deepen this and also include access to advanced weapons and possibly trade deals.

Saudi Arabia has also pushed for nuclear cooperation under the deal, which includes U.S. authorization to enrich uranium in the kingdom – raising concerns among non-nuclear experts. proliferation, because rotating centrifuges open the door to a possible weapons program. Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would seek nuclear weapons if Iran had one. In recent weeks, Iran has increasingly threatened to do so.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York also confirmed that Tehran had held indirect talks with American officials in Oman last week. Iran’s official IRNA news agency cited the mission describing the talks as “an ongoing process.”

“These negotiations are not the first and will not be the last of their kind,” the mission said, according to IRNA.

Oman, a sultanate on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, has been the site of negotiations between the United States and Iran in the past, including under Biden despite tensions between the two nations.

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