Thursday Jan 19, 2023
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed normalising ties with Saudi Arabia in talks with visiting White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday, his office said.
Netanyahu, who returned to office last month with the formation of a new government, was at the helm in 2020 when Israel established ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco as part of the Abraham Accords.
The Israeli premier has repeatedly expressed his desire to see Saudi Arabia join the list.
In their talks, Netanyahu and Sullivan discussed "measures to deepen the Abraham Accords and expand the cycle of peace, with an emphasis on a breakthrough with Saudi," the Israeli leader's office said in a statement.
They also discussed joint efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programme and its regional activities, with Netanyahu thanking his American guest for President Joe Biden's commitment to preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear arms, the statement said.
"You come at a special time because we have acute challenges to our security and vast opportunities for peace," Netanyahu said in televised remarks relayed by his office.
"I am convinced that by working together we can both meet the challenges and realise the opportunities," he said. "That's something that bolsters our extraordinary alliance but also can change the region and change history."
Sullivan stressed that "America's commitment to Israel is ironclad and it's a commitment that's rooted in shared history shared interests and shared values."
"We have to talk about both the challenges but also the real opportunities that our two countries have to work towards a better future," he added.
Sullivan's visit, the first of a senior US official since Netanyahu's new government was sworn in, also saw him meet President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday for talks about "ways to deepen the strategic cooperation," Herzog's office said.
Before speaking with Netanyahu on Thursday, Sullivan had met the head of Israel's Mossad spy agency David Barnea and Israeli national security advisor Tzachi Hanegbi.
Hanegbi and Sullivan also held a video call with their Emirati and Bahraini counterparts, with the four "committing to enhancing the Abraham Accords," Netanyahu's office said.