- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel and committed to enhancing defense and security cooperation between Washington and Riyadh.

In a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Mr. Pompeo expressed openness to a “robust program of arms sales” to Saudi Arabia and announced that the U.S. is preparing to acquire 26 acres for a new American embassy in Riyadh, signifying a renewed investment in the U.S.-Saudi partnership.

“We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well, and we want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far,” Mr. Pompeo said.

He highlighted how the historic agreement contributes “to our shared goals for regional peace and security. They reflect a changing dynamic in the region, one in which countries rightly recognize the need for regional cooperation to counter Iranian influence and generate prosperity.”

The meeting comes roughly a month after Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to normalize their diplomatic relations, marking a breakthrough in Middle East peace. The agreement was dubbed the “Abraham Accords,” in reference to common traditions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

U.S. officials have since moved to persuade additional Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, specifically — to also normalize relations with Israel. Although Riyadh has not expressed openness to joining the agreement, it has not resisted the development.

Mr. Pompeo said that he encouraged the Saudi Arabian government to encourage the Palestinian government to engage in dialogue and negotiations with Israel.

“Doing so would only add to the kingdom’s tremendous progress in promoting regional peace and prosperity on many fronts,” he said.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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