Last Updated: October 29, 2023, 11:14 IST
Saudi Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman is likely to visit Washington on Monday for talks with officials in the Biden administration, US-based publication Axios reported on Saturday. The meetings will come as fears ramp up that the war between Israel and Hamas following its October 7 attack, could expand into a regional conflict.
In a Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday, the Saudis said that “any ground operation by Israel would threaten the lives of Palestinian civilians and result in inhumane dangers.”
Citing three sources with knowledge of the meetings, Axios reported that bin Salman will meet with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Tony Blinken as well as several senators. The White House National Security Council, however, told Reuters it had nothing to confirm when asked about the possible visit.
Prior to the war, Saudi Arabia had spoken of progress in US-led diplomacy to normalise relations with Israel. However, the issue of normalcy has been put on the back burner. On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed in a phone call to eventually “build on” the US-brokered negotiations that had been underway to normalise Israel-Saudi ties.
Saudi Arabia has been among Arab countries that have condemned the targeting of civilians and “flagrant violations of international law” in Gaza which has been under heavy Israeli bombardment. Biden has said the Palestinian outfit’s attack on Israel that killed about 1,400 people aimed to disrupt the normalisation of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
(With agency inputs)