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Top US diplomat Blinken arrives in Saudi Arabia, first stop on Mideast trip

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his first stop in a wider tour of the Middle East as Washington tries to advance negotiations on a normalization deal between the Kingdom and Israel as well as make progress on talks for the governance of postwar Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane, en route to Saudi Arabia, Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his first stop in a wider tour of the Middle East as Washington tries to advance negotiations on a normalization deal between the Kingdom and Israel as well as make progress on talks for the governance of postwar Gaza.

The top U.S. diplomat’s fifth trip to the region since Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack comes at a perilous moment and amid retaliatory U.S. strikes on Iran-backed militia across Syria, Iraq and Yemen in response to a drone strike last week in Jordan that killed three American troops and wounded dozens.

Blinken is also set to visit Egypt, Qatar and Israel later this week and push to advance the Egyptian- and Qatari-mediated conversations with Hamas to achieve a hostage deal.

In Riyadh, Blinken was expected to meet with the Kingdom’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as his Saudi counterpart, foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk

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