Blinken meets Saudi Crown Prince amid Mideast tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Monday to kick off a Middle East tour, a U.S. official said. The visit aims to promote a normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians expressed hope that Blinken’s regional visit might lead to a ceasefire, potentially averting further Israeli military actions.

The meeting between Blinken and the Saudi leader lasted approximately two hours. Blinken did not answer reporters’ questions about the meeting upon returning to his hotel but acknowledged them with a wave.

During his Middle East tour, Blinken will also visit Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He plans to support Egyptian- and Qatari-led negotiations with Palestinian Hamas militants regarding the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.