Blinken discusses human rights with Saudi crown prince

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed human rights with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Tuesday during a trip aimed at boosting ties with the long-time ally.

Blinken’s three-day visit will also focus on efforts to end conflicts in Sudan and Yemen, the joint battle against the Islamic State group (IS) and the Arab world’s relations with the Israeli Occupation.

His trip comes at a time of quickly shifting alliances in the Middle East, centered around a China-brokered rapprochement in March between regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Another landmark change saw Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad invited back to the Arab League last month for the first time in 12 years.

Biden met Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman late Tuesday and the two men had “an open, candid discussion that covered the full range of regional and bilateral issues”, a US official said on condition of anonymity.

“The secretary raised human rights both generally and with regards to specific issues.”

The meeting, which lasted about an hour and 40 minutes, touched on topics including Saudi Arabia’s support for US evacuations from Sudan, the need for political dialogue in Yemen and the potential for the normalization of relations with the Israeli Occupation.

Blinken landed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Tuesday evening and is expected to head to Riyadh Wednesday for a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.

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