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White House's Sullivan heading to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend

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White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel on Saturday to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and will visit Israel on Sunday to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 Jake Sullivan © Mena Today 

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel on Saturday to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and will visit Israel on Sunday to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Sullivan will stress in his talks with the Israelis the need to go after Hamas militants in Gaza in a targeted way, not with a full-scale assault on the southern city of Gaza.

Kirby said Sullivan in his talks with the Saudis will discuss "bilateral and regional matters including the war in Gaza of course and ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region."

A U.S. official said Biden's Middle East envoy, Brett McGurk, was in the region this week for consultations, including a visit to Doha to discuss efforts to gain the release of hostages held by Hamas. McGurk will join Sullivan for the visits to Saudi and Israel, the official said.

Sources say the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia are finalizing an agreement for U.S. security guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance, even as an Israel-Saudi normalization deal envisioned as part of a Middle East "grand bargain" remains elusive.

Kirby said Sullivan's talks with Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials will include Rafah. Israel has threatened a broad offensive in Rafah but the operation is opposed by the United States out of concerns for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled there to get out of the way of fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

Kirby said Sullivan will argue for a more targeted approach against Hamas militants in Rafah. He also said Sullivan will discuss recent stalled efforts to reach a deal with Hamas on the release of sick, elderly and wounded hostages held since the militants seized hostages in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Reporting by Nandita Bose and Steve Holland

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