Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly made Secretary of State Antony Blinken wait hours for a scheduled meeting, ultimately delaying it until the following day.
The Washington Post reported this development, characterizing it as a significant snub to the top U.S. diplomat.
Blinken's visit to the Middle East aimed to gather support from U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia, following Hamas terror attacks in Israel.
The primary objective of Blinken's trip was to garner support from regional leaders in condemning Hamas' violent actions and to address the unrest sparked by the recent conflict.
However, tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia emerged during Blinken's visit. He had expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman upon his arrival Saturday evening, but he was made to wait for hours, with the Crown Prince finally attending the meeting the following day.
During the meeting, Salman called for Israel to cease military operations that had led to the loss of innocent lives, particularly in densely populated Gaza.
He also urged for a de-escalation of the conflict. This Saudi position contrasted with that of the Biden administration, which supported Israel's efforts to eliminate Hamas while emphasizing the importance of protecting civilian lives.
Blinken's efforts to find common ground with another U.S. regional ally, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, reportedly met with limited success.
In recent weeks, there have been indications of a potential historic agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel to normalize relations. Still, the Hamas attacks Oct. 7 were seen as an attempt to sabotage these talks.
Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a key regional ally of the U.S. However, in recent years, the Saudi leadership has pursued a more independent foreign policy course, including forging closer ties with U.S. rival China.
U.S. officials announced an agreement Saturday with Cairo to open the Rafah border briefly for U.S. citizens escaping Gaza violence. Many Palestinian Americans rushed to the border, but none crossed due to conflicting U.S. and Egyptian statements.
"Egypt has put in place a lot of material support for people in Gaza, and Rafah will be opened," Blinken said about his discussions with el-Sissi on the border. "We're putting in place with the United Nations, with Egypt, with Israel, with others, the mechanism by which to get the assistance in, and to get it to people who need it."
In a Sunday meeting at the Cairo presidential palace, el-Sissi stated, "Israel's assaults have exceeded the right of self-defense" and have become "collective punishment."
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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