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Antony Blinken’s Visit and its Significance in Mending Ties with the Region

Writer: Amnah Mosly*

While the decades-long strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has hit a few bumps recently, bilateral ties appear to be back on track, with the US putting in the effort needed to mend the relationship. In June 2023, the White House announced that: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel to Saudi Arabia June 6-8 to meet with Saudi officials to discuss US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues and a range of bilateral issues, including economic and security cooperation.” The visit marked the third consecutive month a senior official from the Biden Administration has paid a visit to the Kingdom following Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Adviser, who traveled to Jeddah in May, and NSC Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and Special 

Presidential Envoy Amos Hochstein who visited the Kingdom in April. By and large, these visits have signaled a positive shift in the relationship, in which the US recognizes that the Kingdom was, and always be, an essential partner in promoting regional and global peace and stability on various fronts.

While in the Kingdom, the Secretary of State met with HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss shared priorities such as countering terrorism through the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, achieving peace in Yemen, and deepening economic and scientific cooperation. Blinken also participated in a US-GCC Ministerial Meeting during which the US and GCC states discussed growing cooperation to promote security, stability, de-escalation, regional integration, and economic opportunities across the Middle East, particularly in finding a solution to the crisisin Sudan, ending the conflict in Yemen, and countering Iran’s destabilizing behavior. Lastly, Blinken co-hosted a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, HRH Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

Following these meetings, Blinken explained that the bilateral relationship has reached a point of “increasing convergence” despite “a difference in views” over the OPEC+ decision to cut oil-production targets last October. In his statement, the Secretary of State elaborated: “We’ve had a partnership together for decades that was grounded in security, in cooperation, energy and, in recent years, counterterrorism, and that foundation remains…But what we’re also seeing — and what this visit reconfirms — is that there are important opportunities for our two countries to work together to advance some very positive issues, very positive trends.” These opportunities include de-escalating tensions in the region as well as collaboration on health, climate, energy, and food security.