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Senior US official, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meet for first time under Biden

US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking will remain in the region to follow up on the detailed discussions.

Published: Updated:

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, a senior Biden administration official said, adding that the meeting discussed a broad range of topics.

Sullivan also met with officials in the UAE on Tuesday, the US official told Al Arabiya English.

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During his meeting in Saudi Arabia, the US official said detailed discussions on Yemen were held. “Both parties endorsed the efforts of the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg and agreed to intensify diplomatic engagement with all relevant parties. Special Envoy Lenderking will remain in the region to follow up on the detailed discussions.”

Sullivan thanked the Saudis for helping evacuate at-risk Afghans during the US withdrawal last month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iraq's PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Riyadh, March 31, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iraq's PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Riyadh, March 31, 2021. (SPA)

Sullivan also welcomed “initiatives to de-escalate tensions throughout the Middle East region, including the Al Ula Declaration and support for initiatives like the Baghdad summit held earlier this month, which brought countries from across the region around the same table to discuss support for Iraq.”

Also present during the meeting, according to the official were, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman, Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, National Guard Minister Abdullah bin Bandar, and Minister of State and National Security Advisor Musaed al-Aiban.

In the UAE, Sullivan met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s national security advisor, with discussions touching on bilateral ties, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“They also exchanged views on regional developments and collaboration towards promoting peace and stability in the region,” WAM reported.

‘Recalibrated’ ties

Sullivan is the most senior Biden administration official to visit Saudi Arabia and meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

His trip to Saudi Arabia comes at a time when bilateral ties between Washington and Riyadh have soured as a result of Biden’s efforts to “recalibrate” the relationship since taking office.

Sullivan is also expected to visit other countries, including Egypt, but the White House has not made any other announcements.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was scheduled to make a trip to the Kingdom while on a tour of the region this month. However, his trip was postponed at the last minute due to what Washington said were “scheduling” issues.

Earlier this month, the State Department approved the sale of $500 million in equipment to Saudi Arabia, which includes maintenance support services for helicopters, including Saudi Arabia’s Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, as well as a future fleet of CH-47D Chinook helicopters.

In July, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman met with Sullivan and other senior Biden administration officials in Washington, including Austin and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Miller.

Read more: The shifting sands of Middle East alliances follows diminishing US power