US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his first stop in a Middle East tour as Washington tries to advance negotiations on a normalisation deal between the kingdom and Israel, and make progress on talks for postwar Gaza governance.
In Riyadh, Blinken met with the kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and his Saudi counterpart, foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, a US official said.
The veteran diplomat’s latest trip comes at a time senior US officials describe as one of the most dangerous the region has seen in decades.
During his visit, Blinken will nevertheless try to reinforce the message that the Biden administration neither seeks war with Iran nor wants the conflict to spread further.
A key priority is for the secretary to “deliver a message directly to countries in the region that the United States does not want to see the conflict escalated and will not escalate the conflict,” according to a senior US official briefing reporters en route to Riyadh. “It’s important to show up and say it one-on-one.”