JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat on Saturday downplayed talk of normalization with Israel after the kingdom opened its airspace to Israeli commercial flights and hammered out a complex deal over islands in the Red Sea that required Israeli assent.

Oct 01 2022

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat on Saturday downplayed talk of normalization with Israel after the kingdom opened its airspace to Israeli commercial flights and hammered out a complex deal over islands in the Red Sea that required Israeli assent.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Farhan bin Faisal spoke to reporters after a four-day visit by President Joe Biden to the region, including two days that the U.S. leader spent in Saudi Arabia, where he held talks with the Saudi king and the crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, and took part in a summit of regional leaders.

Prince Farhan stressed there was no discussion at the summit of any military cooperation with Israel or talk of a so-called “Arab NATO.”

“There is no discussion about a defensive alliance with Israel,” he repeated.

Ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia have been inching closer amid shared concerns over Iran. The kingdom’s public stance is that it has long welcomed normalization with Israel so long as Palestinian rights and demands for statehood are guaranteed. TEHRAN, Iran — Dozens of Iranian hard-liners rallied on Saturday at a square in downtown Tehran, burning U.S. and Israeli flags and denouncing President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East.

The small crowd also erupted in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” typical at anti-American rallies in Iran. The demonstrators also protested against the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab nations that started under the previous U.S. administration.

Biden said at a wider regional summit in Saudi Arabia on Saturday that the United States would not walk away from Middle East’s security and leave a vacuum that Russia, China or Iran could try and fill.

Separately, Iran announced on Saturday that it was imposing sanctions on 61 Americans, including Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state, and John Bolton, the former national security advisor, over their support for foreign-based dissident Iranian groups.

Iran has in recent years imposed several times such symbolic measures on Americans who Tehran says are acting against Iran. In June, an Iranian court also ordered the U.S. government to pay over $4 billion to the families of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been killed in targeted attacks in recent years. JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Joe Biden and Jordan’s King Abullah met on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, with the White House announcing that the United States has committed to a new assistance package for Jordan of no less than $1.45 billion a year.

The announcement was made after the two leaders met on the sidelines of a wider regional summit in which Biden vowed that the U.S. will not walk away from Middle East’s security and is not going to leave a vacuum for Russia, China or Iran to try and fill. Jordan, which hosts Palestinian and Syrian refugees, shares borders with Israel and the West Bank. Its stability is seen as crucial to the region, but its economy has struggled under the weight of inflation and from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has faced public protests, and the king’s brother, Prince Hamza, is under house arrest following a public rebuke of the country’s leadership.

In 2017, the U.S. committed to no less than $1.27 billion per year in bilateral foreign assistance to Jordan, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2022. The new annual package to Jordan is an adjustment of that annual U.S. support for the country.


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