Blinken meets with Saudi crown prince during crisis tour amid Gaza war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his aircraft departing from Abu Dhabi on October 14, 2023 (Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his aircraft departing from Abu Dhabi on October 14, 2023 (Jacquelyn Martin / POOL / AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a crisis tour of the Middle East, meets with the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, which has put on hold normalization efforts with Israel.

The top US diplomat began meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at his palace in Riyadh just after 7:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), a US official says.

Blinken has been touring the region since Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel on October 7 and killed 1,300 people and kidnapped 150-200 more, sparking a massive Israeli retaliatory campaign targeting the Islamist group in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 2,200 people, according to the terror organization.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a session on ‘Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment’ as part of the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, on September 9, 2023. (EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP)

Before the violence, the Saudi crown prince, known by his initials MBS, had spoken of progress in US-led diplomacy to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Saudi Arabia has put the process on hold after the violence, with some suspecting that Hamas wanted to stop normalization for fear it would further weaken the Palestinian cause.

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