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Blinken, MBS discuss terrorism, regional issues in Jeddah

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed “full range of regional and bilateral issues” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his official visit to the kingdom on late Tuesday.

Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia a day earlier on a three-day official visit amid frayed ties between the two countries due to disagreements on several issues including Iran policy and regional security.

“They had an open, candid discussion that covered the full range of regional and bilateral issues,” AFP quoted the US the official saying.

Following the meeting, the US State Department in a statement said Blinken expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s leadership in hosting the Daesh/Ministerial and stressed joint continued efforts to fight terrorism.

“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,” the statement added.

The US secretary of state also emphasised that bilateral relationship is strengthened by progress on human rights.

Blinken and the Saudi crown prince also discussed deepening economic cooperation, especially in the clean energy and technology fields. “The Secretary also thanked the Crown Prince for Saudi Arabia’s support evacuating hundreds of US citizens from Sudan, and for the Kingdom’s ongoing partnership in diplomatic negotiations to stop the fighting there,” the statement added.

Blinken’s visit is aimed at boosting ties with longtime ally Saudi Arabia, which has begun forging closer relations with Washington’s rivals.

The visit will also focus on the joint battle against the Daesh terrorist group and the Arab world’s relations with Israel.

The meeting, which lasted about 100 minutes, touched on topics including Saudi Arabia’s support for US evacuations from Sudan, the need for political dialogue in Yemen and the potential for the normalisation of relations with Israel.

The two men discussed “our shared priorities, including countering terrorism through the D-ISIS Coalition, achieving peace in Yemen, and deepening economic and scientific cooperation”, Blinken said on social media.

Since announcing resumed relations with Iran in March, Saudi Arabia has restored ties with Tehran ally Syria and ramped up a push for peace in Yemen, where it has for years led a military coalition against the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

Regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran have been at loggerheads for years, backing opposing sides in a number of conflicts around the volatile region.

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