Reema bint Bandar: Saudi-US Partnership Is Crucial for Global Security 

Saudi Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.
Saudi Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.
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Reema bint Bandar: Saudi-US Partnership Is Crucial for Global Security 

Saudi Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.
Saudi Ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday that maintaining the long-standing strategic partnership between Riyadh and Washington was "beyond critically necessary" for global stability. 

"Yes there was a moment of conflict and disagreement, but that doesn't take away from the fact that we are both strategic allies and we are friends, and this relationship is critical for the world," envoy Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud said at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos. 

She stressed the importance of the US-Saudi relationship that has weathered 80 years and said that the two countries have "stood by each other where it counts and where it matters". 

Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, when asked during the same panel about the visit by China's president to the Kingdom in December, said both China and the United States were very important to Saudi Arabia. 

He said the Kingdom, the world's top oil exporter, aims to "bridge the divide" between the two rival economic giants. 



Saudi Crown Prince Offers Condolences to Iran’s Interim President for Late President Raisi

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Offers Condolences to Iran’s Interim President for Late President Raisi

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, held telephone talks on Friday with Iran’s interim President Mohamed Mokhber to offer his condolences over the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amid-Abdollahian and their entourage.

Mokhber expressed his gratitude to Crown Prince Mohammed for his gesture.

The officials hailed the progress achieved in bilateral relations between their countries on various levels.

They underscored the importance of continuing to bolster cooperation in various fields.


King of Bahrain Says No Reason to Delay Normalizing Ties with Iran

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
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King of Bahrain Says No Reason to Delay Normalizing Ties with Iran

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa extended on Thursday an invitation to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to attend a Middle East peace conference that will be hosted by the kingdom.

King Hamad is on an official visit to Russia where he held talks with Putin at the Kremlin. The leaders discussed several issues, including expanding trade between their countries.

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, King Hamad said: “Arab countries are in agreement over the need to hold a peace conference to resolve the problem of the Middle East.”

“Russia is the first country we are turning to to support this conference because it has the greatest international influence,” he went on to say.

King Hamad also said Bahrain supports normalizing ties with Iran.

“We had problems with Iran, but not anymore,” he remarked. “We see no reason to delay the normalization of relations with it.”

He underlined the principle of good neighborliness, adding: “We are trying to establish normal diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with it.”

King Hamad had kicked off his official visit to Russia on Wednesday at the invitation of Putin.


Saudi Foreign Minister Meets with Austrian Counterpart

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, met on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, met on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg. SPA
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Saudi Foreign Minister Meets with Austrian Counterpart

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, met on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, met on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, met on Thursday with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg.

During the meeting, they reviewed the distinguished relations between the Kingdom and Austria and ways to bolster them to serve the interests of the two countries and peoples. They also exchanged views on regional and international issues.

Senior officials attended the meeting.


Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Meets with British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA
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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Meets with British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Member, and Envoy for Climate, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, met on Thursday with the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Neil Crompton.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of common interest and Saudi-UK ties.


Saudi Ambassador Presents Credentials to Emperor of Japan

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Ambassador Presents Credentials to Emperor of Japan

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The flag of Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Japan Dr. Ghazi Faisal Binzagr presented his credentials as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Saudi Arabia to Japan to Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Binzagr conveyed warm greetings and appreciation from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to the emperor.

He also expressed their wishes for continued progress and prosperity for Japan and its people.


Saudi Hajj Test Run Includes 36,000 Trips to Transport 1.2 Mln Pilgrims

Part of the results of the Hajj Simulation initiative launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah with the participation of 40 governmental entities (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Part of the results of the Hajj Simulation initiative launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah with the participation of 40 governmental entities (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Hajj Test Run Includes 36,000 Trips to Transport 1.2 Mln Pilgrims

Part of the results of the Hajj Simulation initiative launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah with the participation of 40 governmental entities (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Part of the results of the Hajj Simulation initiative launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah with the participation of 40 governmental entities (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah shared results from their second test run for transporting pilgrims for this year’s Hajj season. This is part of their early prep with 40 government bodies.
Highlights from the test include virtually moving over 1.2 million pilgrims, with 5 guidance operations along 12 main routes.
Around 36,640 trips were made within holy sites.
4,000 buses from 63 companies participated, with 600 operation points and 200 camps in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah. The simulation lasted 17 hours, with 10 hours spent on guidance operations.
One key gain from this trial is the participation of Hajj affairs offices in serving pilgrims and measuring travel times between holy sites based on pilgrims’ needs.
They also tested bus parking and infrastructure quality for better service at holy sites.
This relies on strong infrastructure projects, benefiting pilgrims and managed by various sectors.
Discussions on operational plans for the transportation system are expected to finalize scheduling for guidance operations.
Dr. Ayed Algwinm, a representative of the Hajj and Umrah ministry, explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that the ministry’s trial with its partners is a real test for all the planning this year.
Through these trials, they assess readiness and coordination among the 40 government and 12 field entities involved in Hajj operations, especially in transportation.
He mentioned that plans are practically tested through the “Hajj Simulation” initiative and hypothetical trials for transportation. Over 12,000 field workers verify plan readiness.
Through these trials, they virtually transported over 1.2 million pilgrims.
According to Algwinm, having Hajj affairs offices on transportation routes helps understand pilgrim paths, and monitoring identifies and prevents potential issues during the season.
In response to a question from Asharq Al-Awsat about the gaps found in the trial, Algwinm said: “All these gaps are operational. None are major enough to disrupt transportation or require changing plans. Most are about fully understanding the journey, like not sticking to the schedule or misunderstanding routes.”
He explained that a specialized workshop will address these gaps with all partners. The main goal is to learn from mistakes, rather than aiming for a flawless trial.


UK: Two-State Solution a Shared, Irreversible Principle with Saudi Arabia

British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad (Asharq Al-Awsat)
British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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UK: Two-State Solution a Shared, Irreversible Principle with Saudi Arabia

British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad (Asharq Al-Awsat)
British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad (Asharq Al-Awsat)

British Minister of State for the Middle East, Lord Tariq Ahmad, called the two-state solution a “shared principle” for both the UK and Saudi Arabia, and insisted it is an “irreversible path.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Lord Ahmad stated that during the ongoing crisis in Israel and Palestine and the severe humanitarian situation in Gaza, both the UK and Saudi Arabia are focused on addressing this issue.
The minister noted that it is one of many areas where the two Kingdoms are working together.
He also mentioned other important regional issues, noting the strong partnership between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
Lord Ahmad also revealed that the two Kingdoms are collaborating on various global challenges like climate change, global financing, reconstruction, and conflict resolution.
The minister emphasized that the Saudi-British partnership is built on mutual respect and shared aspirations. He highlighted the collaborative efforts to strengthen bilateral relations.
He spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat at the British Foreign Office at a time when a large British delegation, comprising over 400 senior government officials and top executives from major companies, arrived in Saudi Arabia.
They were there to participate in the “GREAT FUTURES” initiative conference, created by the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council, co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Numerous announcements and investments totaling billions of pounds were made at the gathering. Lord Ahmad, reflecting on his 20-year career as a banker in London, emphasized the substantial investments made by Saudi companies in the UK capital markets, highlighting the significance of their relationship.
Sunak, addressing conference attendees through video, noted that trade between the two countries surpasses $21 billion.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, speaking at the forum’s launch, expressed a desire for more than just supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030; he expressed a wish to actively participate in it.
Saudi Trade Minister Majid Al-Qasabi also pointed out the promising economic prospects in Saudi Arabia and the extensive collaboration between the two Kingdoms.
He mentioned that while the UK ranks as the world’s second-largest services exporter, Saudi Arabia is focused on economic diversification and holds substantial potential.


Blinken: US-Saudi Deal Could Be ‘Weeks Away’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP)
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Blinken: US-Saudi Deal Could Be ‘Weeks Away’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the US and Saudi Arabia are very close to finalizing key defense and civil nuclear agreements.

Speaking at a hearing in the House of Representatives, Blinken said the finalizing of the agreements “could be weeks away” but cautioned that for the wider normalization to proceed, there must be calm in Gaza and the formulation of a pathway for Palestinian statehood.

Earlier, US officials hinted that the deals were near.

After National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s recent Middle East visit, a senior official mentioned that the agreements would include US defense guarantees for Saudi Arabia and advanced weapons.

The deal might also involve a civil nuclear agreement and the potential sale of F-35 fighter jets and other advanced arms.

Saudi Arabia’s Clear Demands

Blinken said on Tuesday that while US-Saudi agreements are almost complete, further steps from Israel are needed.

“In order for normalization to proceed, Saudi Arabia has made very clear that even with the agreements between us completed, they have to have two things: they have to have calm in Gaza and they have to have a credible pathway to a Palestinian state,” Blinken told the House Appropriations Committee.

He added that Israel must decide if it wants to pursue normalized relations with its regional neighbors, a goal since its founding.

Sullivan, in a White House press conference after his Middle East tour, reiterated President Joe Biden’s support for a two-state solution.

He stated this approach is key to ensuring long-term security and stability in the region, providing safety for Israel and a dignified future for Palestinians.

Sullivan mentioned discussing this vision with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

Former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross stressed the importance of a potential US-Saudi agreement, describing it as aligned with the needs and interests of both countries.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ross highlighted the significance of this deal.

Steven Cook, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, echoed this sentiment, calling the agreement “extremely important.”

Cook explained that the agreement would formally link US and Saudi security, which has been informal until now.

He added that it would surpass Saudi Arabia’s current relations with China and send a strong message to Iran, which will likely test the agreement at the first opportunity.


Sultan of Oman, Jordan King Discuss Joint Cooperation

Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
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Sultan of Oman, Jordan King Discuss Joint Cooperation

Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak
Jordan's King Abdullah reviews an honor guard with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman upon his arrival at Marka military airport, in Amman, Jordan May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Jehad Shelbak

The Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tarik and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein held expanded talks on Wednesday in Amman and stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The two monarchs met at the Basman Palace and exchanged views on issues of common concern on the Arab and international arenas, most notably the current situation in the Gaza Strip and in the occupied Palestinian territories.
They stressed the need to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, protect civilians and intensify efforts to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to all parts of the Gaza Strip.
They reviewed aspects of bilateral cooperation and means of promoting them at various levels to serve the joint interests and the fraternal ties between the two countries, the Oman News Agency said.
Prior to the session, the Sultan of Oman and the Jordanian King held a closed-door meeting.
On the Omani side, the meeting was attended by Sayyid Shihab bin Tarik Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs; Sayyid Bilarab bin Haitham Al Said, Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court Gen.; Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nuamani, Minister of the Royal Office; Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Foreign Minister; Dr. Hamad bin Said Al Aufi, Head of the Private Office; Abdussalam bin Mohammed Al Murshidi, Chairman of Oman Investment Authority; and Sheikh Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al Ojaili, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
From the Jordanian side the meeting was attended by Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein, Head of the Mission of Honour that accompanies His Majesty the Sultan; Dr. Bisher Khasawneh, Prime Minister of Jordan; Yousef Issawi, Chief of the Royal Court; Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates; Maj.Gen Ahmad Husni, Chief of the General Intelligence Department; Jaafar Hassan, Director of the King’s Office; Kholoud Saqqaf, Minister of Investment; Amjad Quhaiwi, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Sultanate of Oman and some senior Jordanian officials.
Sultan Haitham arrived in Jordan on Wednesday for a two-day visit.


Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Ties over Phone

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Ties over Phone

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands ahead of a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron held a phone call on Wednesday.
During the call, the two sides exchanged congratulations on the agreement signed between Saudia and Airbus to purchase 105 aircraft.
They also reviewed relations and ways to develop existing cooperation in a number of fields, and discussed a number of issues of common interest.
The two sides exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, foremost of which the latest development in the situation in Gaza, and the need to intensify efforts and international communications to end the war and all forms of escalation, and to work to deliver sufficient humanitarian aid.