Saudi Foreign Minister Denies Netanyahu Met Crown Prince, Pompeo for Iran Talks

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud bin al-Faisal drinks water during a joint press conference with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra (unseen) following their meeting in Riyadh, on April 15, 2014.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Monday denied reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held trilateral talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Iran, the nuclear deal, and normalization.

Citing two Saudi government advisers, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the three had met in Neom on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, but that the talks had yielded no substantial agreements. The meeting was also attended by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, an Israeli official told the media.

Stopping Iranian hegemony in the region is a shared goal between the two countries. Apparent U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has said he will return to the nuclear deal with Iran.
Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the trip, describing it “an amazing achievement.”
According to the Ynet news site, the Saudi crown prince, known as MBS, did not object to the meeting being disclosed.
However, Prince Faisal bin Farhan denied that Netanyahu or any other Israeli officials were present.

“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 and Saudi,” he tweeted.

At a weekly meeting for his Likud faction, Netanyahu said: “I have not commented on such matters for years and I am not going to start now. For years I haven’t spared any effort to strengthen Israel and broaden the circle of peace.”

Pompeo on Monday said he held a “constructive” meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince the night before, but made no mention of Netanyahu’s presence.

“Pleasure to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Our security and economic partnership is strong and we’ll continue to harness it to advance efforts to counter malign Iranian influence in the Gulf, economic goals under the Vision 2030 plan, and human rights reform,” Pompeo tweeted.

Aviation tracking data showed that a private jet had made a trip from Tel Aviv to Neom.

The Kan public broadcaster said the jet belonged to businessman Ehud Angel, and was the same one used by the prime minister used for a secret visit to Oman last year.

According to Haaretz, the private plane was the one Netanyahu took several times for his visits to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri demanded an explanation from Saudi Arabia, calling the alleged visit “an insult to the nation and an invitation to attack Palestinian rights.”

The Kan public broadcaster reported the Saudi-Israeli talks focused on Iran and the incoming Biden administration. Stopping Iranian hegemony in the region is a shared goal between the two countries. Apparent president-elect Joe Biden has said he will return to the nuclear deal with Iran.

Neither Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz nor Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi were informed about Netanyahu’s trip to Saudi Arabia, an Israeli official told Kan.

Following last month’s normalization deal between Sudan and Israel, President Donald Trump predicted that Saudi Arabia would soon follow suit.

Follow @danandeborah on Twitter



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