Saudi crown prince, US national security adviser discuss near-finalized bilateral agreement

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met to discuss an almost finalized draft of a deal between Washington and Riyadh, the Saudi state news agency reported on Sunday.

The meeting in the Saudi city of Dhahran reviewed “the semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the two countries, which are almost being finalized,” a statement read.

The discussions come in the wake of reports that Washington and Riyadh are close to 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 beyond reach.

The de facto Saudi leader and President Joe Biden’s top security aide also discussed the need to find a “credible track for bringing about the two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, stop the war against Hamas militants in Gaza, and facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid, the statement said.

The White House said on Friday that Sullivan would visit Saudi Arabia and Israel to discuss bilateral and regional matters, including Gaza and efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region.

Saudi Arabia, as the world’s largest oil exporter, is not an obvious candidate for a nuclear pact typically aimed at building power plants. But the kingdom is seeking to generate substantial renewable energy and reduce emissions under an ambitious long-term plan. Critics say Riyadh might want nuclear expertise in case it someday wishes to acquire nuclear weapons, despite safeguards enshrined in any deal with Washington to prevent this.