US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to land in Saudi Arabia today, Tuesday, for crucial discussions on global security and economic issues amidst the ongoing strife in Sudan now entering its eighth week.
In a statement from the US State Department, Blinken’s agenda is said to include “US-Saudi strategic cooperation on regional and global issues”, addressing an array of bilateral topics with a focus on economic and security collaboration.
An inevitable subject of discussion will likely be the crisis in Sudan, which has been escalating over recent weeks. The ceasefire, which was extended for five days through US and Saudi mediation, officially ended this past Saturday in Sudan.
Last week, the Sudanese army opted to withdraw from the talks taking place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Following this withdrawal, the US-Saudi mediators announced the formal suspension of the discussions. The US is keen on resuming negotiations, given the condition that all parties demonstrate earnest commitment towards maintaining the ceasefire.
According to the Saudi foreign ministry, representatives from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have returned to Jeddah. They remain in the city despite the failure of the ceasefire talks.
In light of the situation, the US and Saudi mediators have issued another call for the conflicting parties to agree upon and implement a renewed ceasefire. The intent behind this is to create a pathway towards a “permanent cessation of hostilities”, as stated by Riyadh.
A significant objective of these efforts is to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure secure access to regions in Sudan devastated by the conflict.
On Thursday, the United States imposed sanctions on both factions involved in the Sudanese conflict, blaming them for instigating a horrific cycle of violence.
This marks Blinken’s visit as the second high-profile American diplomatic visit to Saudi Arabia within a month, following White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s trip to the kingdom on May 7th.
As part of his itinerary, Blinken is set to participate in the US-Saudi strategic dialogue and a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aimed at strengthening bilateral ties.
Blinken asserted on Monday that the United States has a “real national security interest” in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This effort echoes past US administration’s attempts, dating back to former President Jimmy Carter, to facilitate normalization between Israel and various Arab nations including Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates.
Blinken and his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan, also co-chaired a meeting of the 80-nation coalition battling the Islamic State group on Thursday.