Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the first time ever senior individuals from the two countries have met together.
The Associated Press reports the clandestine meeting is a part of the Trump administration’s latest initiative to create peace in the Middle East and members from the administration joined in the meeting.
“The Israeli news site Walla, followed quickly 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 crown prince. The prince was there for talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” the report says.
The report was somewhat contested when news outlets reached out to the reported meeting’s participants.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment.
Netanyahu did not specifically confirm the meeting.
“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.
Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan denied specifically meeting with Israeli officials, but confirmed that a meeting did take place with American officials.
“No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he said.
The Associated Press adds:
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The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com showed a Gulfstream IV private jet took off from Tel Aviv on Sunday night and flew south along the edge of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula before turning toward Neom and landing. The flight took off from Neom over three hours later and followed the same route back to Tel Aviv.
Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, traveled with a small group of American reporters on his trip throughout the Mideast, but left them at the Neom airport when he went into his visit with the crown prince.
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, would love to add the Saudis to that list before it leaves office in January. In Sudan, a military official said an Israeli delegation was in the country on Monday to discuss the normalization efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with the media.