Saudi-U.S. Strategic Agreements Near Completion: Negotiations Include Nuclear Program

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are close to an agreement, but Saudi Arabia wants UN recognition of the state of Palestine from the 1967 borders

by Sededin Dedovic
Saudi-U.S. Strategic Agreements Near Completion: Negotiations Include Nuclear Program
© Firstpost / YOutube channel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed the "final version" of strategic agreements between the two countries in the Saudi city of Dhahran, according to official Saudi media reports today.

The agreements are a central part of Washington's efforts to get Riyadh to recognize the state of Israel, but these efforts have been further complicated by the ongoing war in Gaza. The Saudi Crown Prince, who is effectively the leader of Saudi Arabia, and Jake Sullivan discussed the "virtually final version of the proposed strategic agreements between the Kingdom and the U.S.," according to Saudi media, highlighting that the deal is "near completion." They also discussed efforts by both sides regarding the Palestinian issue and finding a "credible path to a two-state solution in response to the aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," the same sources added.

The discussions also included the situation in Gaza and the need to end the war and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged and war-torn Palestinian territory after more than seven months of conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Sullivan's talks in Saudi Arabia are expected to cover "bilateral and regional issues, including the war in Gaza" as well as "ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region," a White House spokesperson said on Friday.

Achieving normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia along the lines of agreements made with other Arab countries is one of the major diplomatic goals of U.S. President Joe Biden, according to AFP. Saudi Arabia seeks enhanced security relations with Washington, its largest security partner, and Washington has indicated its willingness to provide them.

However, the Saudis also demand the establishment of a Palestinian state, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes. Riyadh is also negotiating for assistance in developing a civilian nuclear program. In September, Mohammed bin Salman expressed optimism about the possibility of reaching such an agreement in an interview with Fox News, but analysts note that the war in Gaza has complicated the situation.

The White House stated that Jake Sullivan is also scheduled to hold talks in Israel.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan© Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has informed the U.S.

of its firm stance that there will be no diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognized within the 1967 borders and Israeli "aggression" in Gaza is halted, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced today.

The Saudi statement was a response to comments by U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, who said that efforts for normalization and hostage negotiations are "two different things" and not connected. Kirby mentioned that the U.S.

is working hard to reach an agreement similar to the first hostage deal in November and that discussions about normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia are ongoing. "We have, of course, received positive feedback from both sides that they are willing to continue these discussions, but that is a separate track and not specifically connected to the attempt to establish an extended humanitarian pause," Kirby said.

The Kingdom issued a statement confirming its firm position to Washington on the Palestinian issue in light of Kirby's comments, the ministry said. The idea of formalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia has been discussed since the Saudis tacitly agreed to allow Gulf neighbors, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to establish relations with Israel in 2020, Israeli media recall.

U.S.-led efforts for Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel were put on hold in October amid growing Arab anger over the war in Gaza. Last week, it was reported that Saudi officials told their American counterparts that Riyadh would not insist on specific steps towards the creation of a Palestinian state and would instead accept a political commitment to resolving the conflict based on a two-state solution, two regional sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia will not normalize relations with Israel without resolving the Palestinian issue, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said some time ago. "This is the only way we will benefit. We need stability, and stability will only come through resolving the Palestinian issue," Faisal said in an interview with CNN.

Shame Route In December, Israel confirmed plans for a land route stretching from the eastern Arabian Peninsula to Israel, which could potentially reduce costs and transit time for goods. Initially, Israel and the Gulf Arab states did not confirm these reports, and some, like the Jordanian government, denied the formation of such a land route.

However, Israeli Channel 13 reported this week that ships have set off towards the Persian Gulf, departing from Dubai in the UAE, passing through Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and finally reaching the Jordan River Crossing in Israel.

These media reports sparked significant outrage among the Arab public, dubbing this supposed route the "Shame Route."

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