San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition

Re­ports: Saudi prince met with Is­raeli leader

- By Ilan Ben Zion Ilan Ben Zion is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer. Military · U.S. News · Middle East News · Politics · Middle East Politics · Warfare and Conflicts · World Politics · Jerusalem · Benjamin Netanyahu · Saudi Arabia · Saudi Arabia national football team · Mohammad bin Salman · Salman of Saudi Arabia · Donald Trump · Israel · Iran · Mossad · United States of America · Mike Pompeo · Twitter · Bahrain · Sudan · United Arab Emirates · Yossi Cohen · Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

JERUSALEM — Is­raeli me­dia re­ported Mon­day that Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu flew to Saudi Ara­bia for a clan­des­tine meet­ing with Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, which would mark the first known en­counter be­tween se­nior Is­raeli and Saudi of­fi­cials.

The re­ported meet­ing was the lat­est move by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to pro­mote nor­mal­ized ties be­tween Is­rael and the broader Arab world and re­flected the shared con­cern of all three na­tions about Iran.

The Is­raeli news site Walla, fol­lowed by other He­brew-lan­guage me­dia, cited an un­named Is­raeli of­fi­cial as say­ing that Ne­tanyahu and Yossi Co­hen, head of Is­rael’s Mos­sad spy agency, flew to the Saudi city of Neom on Sun­day, where they met with the prince. The prince was there for talks with U. S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

Peo­ple trav­el­ing with Pom­peo de­clined com­ment. Ne­tanyahu also de­clined to con­firm the visit.

“I have not ad­dressed such things for years and I will not start with that now. For years I have spared no ef­fort to strengthen Is­rael and ex­pand the cir­cle of peace,” he said.

The Saudi for­eign min­is­ter, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, de­nied on Twit­ter that the meet­ing took place.

“No such meet­ing oc­curred. The only of­fi­cials present were Amer­i­can and Saudi,” he wrote. He did not elab­o­rate.

While Bahrain, Su­dan and the United Arab Emi­rates have reached deals un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to nor­mal­ize ties with Is­rael, Saudi Ara­bia so far has re­mained out of reach. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, as well as Ne­tanyahu, wish to add the Saudis to that list be­fore it leaves of­fice in Jan­uary.

Is­rael’s Chan­nel 12 TV, cit­ing an anony­mous di­plo­matic of­fi­cial, said the Saudis told Ne­tanyahu and Pom­peo that they are not ready to nor­mal­ize ties with Is­rael.

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