Blinken, Saudi crown prince discuss cooperation on security in Jeddah

Secretary of State emphasizes human rights

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Antony Blinken
1 of 2 | U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Antony Blinken

June 7 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Tuesday in Jeddah where the leaders agreed to work together in a renewed effort to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Blinken planned to be in Saudi Arabia through Thursday in an effort to build strategic cooperation on regional and global issues, including the coordination of economic and security efforts, the State Department said.


Meanwhile, Blinken used the meeting to put pressure on bin Salman for more progress on human rights as relations between the longtime allies have soured in recent years due to increasing humanitarian violations by the Saudi government.

Washington was seeking more meaningful humanitarian commitments from bin Salman that would ultimately serve to strengthen diplomacy, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.


The leaders agreed to a separate comprehensive action plan that aims to reestablish political stability in Yemen.

The Secretary emphasized a deepening economic cooperation between the U.S. and the Saudi government, especially in the areas of clean energy and emerging technologies.

Blinken's visit came one day after Saudi Arabia announced plans to slash oil production by a million barrels a day beginning in July as oil-producing nations agreed to maintain lower crude levels through the end of 2024.

The meeting also took place as the U.S. PGA Tour and its Saudi-funded rival LIV Golf agreed to a stunning merger valued at more than $600 billion.

Blinken also thanked the Saudi leadership for hosting a recent conference devoted to countering ISIS while both leaders affirmed a shared commitment to advancing stability in the region, adding that all current joint efforts would remain intact.

The Secretary commended Saudi Arabia's support in evacuating hundreds of U.S. citizens from Sudan, where two rival military groups have been waging a bloody war for control of the country since April.

On Wednesday, Blinken was scheduled to join a U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council meeting to promote the new stability efforts and how the actions would lead to economic opportunities across the Middle East.


Next, the Secretary will travel to Riyadh on Thursday to co-host a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. There, Blinken and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan will highlight the critical role of the coalition to address the continuing terrorist threat, the State Department said.

Blinken's meeting with bin Salman comes several months after the crown prince was granted immunity from a U.S. civil lawsuit that accused him of ordering the 2018 killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.

Last year, the 37-year-old royal heir was installed as the country's prime minister, the nation's highest office, which effectively shielded the prince from any criminal liability in Khashoggi's murder due to the rule of sovereign immunity in the United States.

However, President Joe Biden said he brought up Khashoggi during a working session last summer with bin Salman at Al Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah, telling the crown prince he thought he was personally responsible for the slaying.

"I made my view crystal clear," Biden said at the time. "I said very straightforwardly, for an American president. To be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent ... with who we are and who I am. What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous."


The Saudi regime has also come under fire for its increasing crackdowns on government opponents, according to Saudi political activists living in exile.

In one high-profile case, Salma al-Shehab -- a Saudi Arabian PhD student on break from Leeds University in Britain -- was sentenced to 34 years in prison last August after she was arrested for sharing social media posts of known political dissidents.

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