Mossad chief held secret US talks about Saudi normalisation: Report

Israeli intelligence chief, David Barnea, held undisclosed talks in Washington about the Biden administration’s ongoing push to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to a report published Monday, Reuters reports.

Barnea, who heads Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, met senior White House and CIA officials two weeks ago about the effort to establish diplomatic relations between the countries, Axios reported, citing two anonymous US officials.

US President, Joe Biden, is seeking to cement an agreement by early next year, at the latest, that would see Saudi Arabia and Israel officially recognise each other. Biden is keen to have the pact in place before the 2024 campaign season kicks into high gear next spring, according to Axios.

Barnea’s visit comes as Israel wants to ensure its security interests are clear to Washington, including proposals that could see the US provide Riyadh with assistance on the development of a civilian nuclear program, as well as potential arms sales to the Kingdom, the publication said.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Adviser, visited Riyadh last week, and the White House said he discussed with Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and other senior officials “initiatives to advance a common vision for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous and stable Middle East region interconnected with the world.”

Barnea met Sullivan before he departed for Saudi Arabia, and also sat down with a host of other key administration officials, including CIA Director, Bill Burns, White House Middle East point-person, Brett McGurk, and Amos Hochstein, Biden’s energy and infrastructure aide.

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