A secret meeting between Netanyahu, Pompeo and the Saudi crown prince Sunday evening has been confirmed, although it appears no formal ties are imminent, Israel Hayom reports.
By World Israel News Staff
Following reports of a “secret” meeting in Saudi Arabia between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday, accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mossad head Yossi Cohen, Israeli officials have now confirmed the gathering, Israel Hayom reports.
The meeting’s apparent purpose, the paper says, is to show a united front against Iran before President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Biden has spoken out in favor of a return to a nuclear deal with Iran, a move staunchly opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf that are repeatedly threatened by the regime in Tehran.
Biden is expected to appoint Antony Blinken as secretary of state. Blinken was heavily involved in shaping the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement in 2018.
The meeting in Neom, Saudi Arabia, was arranged by U.S. Special Representative for Iran Elliott Abrams. Riyadh has made no comment on the gathering, which was leaked to the media sooner than planned, according to Israel Hayom. An Israeli business jet was tracked after it took off just before 8 p.m. Sunday evening for Saudi Arabia, where it remained for about four hours.
A senior Saudi official told the Wall Street Journal that Netanyahu and bin Salman discussed several issues, including the Iranian threat and normalization of ties, but no formal agreements were made.
Education Minister Yoav Galant called the meeting an “amazing achievement.”
“The very fact the meeting happened, and was announced publicly, even if semi-officially for now, is a matter of great importance,” he said.
Despite confirmation from Israel and Saudi Arabia, however, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud on Monday denied that the meeting took place, Reuters and AP report.
“I have seen press reports about a purported meeting between HRH the Crown Prince and Israeli officials during the recent visit by @SecPompeo. No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American,” he said.