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Netanyahu makes secret trip to meet with Saudi crown prince, Pompeo

Netanyahu makes secret trip to meet with Saudi crown prince, Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second from left, meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center-right, in Neom, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also visited with the crown prince for the first time, officials said. Photo courtesy Secretary of State Mike Pompeo/Twitter

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret trip to Saudi Arabia late Sunday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Netanyahu did not advise either his defense minister or foreign minister of the visit to Neom on Sunday night. Mossad intelligence head Yossi Cohen also attended the meeting.

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Among the topics of discussion was Iran, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The meeting lasted for a few hours before Netanyahu returned to Israel.

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Israeli education minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, called the meeting an "incredible achievement."

"Let us say that the very existence of the meeting, the fact that it was put out publicly ... [is] a matter of great importance from any aspect and matter," Gallant told Israel's Army Radio.

Sunday's was the first known meeting between Netanyahu and bin Salman.

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Pompeo, who visited Saudi Arabia at the end of his seven-nation tour, has encouraged Saudi officials to normalize relations with Israel -- similar to steps taken this fall by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

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The Saudi crown prince is said to support establishing a diplomatic channel with Israel, but Saudi reports say King Salman is opposed to the idea. Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump has said he expects Saudi Arabia will follow the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan and establish Israeli ties.

Trump participated remotely Sunday on the second day of the G20 Summit after taking criticism for skipping the first day on Saturday to golf instead.

"Trump expressed the importance of policies that promote workers and families. He also discussed the historic achievements made in the United States and around the world in empowering and investing in women, and called on all countries to do more," the White House said in a statement.

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