RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and a top aide to US President Joe Biden have discussed a “semi-final” version of a deal expected to beef up security ties, Saudi state media reported on Sunday.

The development came as Iran confirmed it held indirect talks with US in Oman despite the two countries having no diplomatic relations, according to state media.

The meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s nati­onal security adviser, took place in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. Sullivan arrived in Israel later on Sunday for talks about the war in Gaza.

“The semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements bet­ween the Kingdom and the United States of America, which are almost being finalised...were discussed,” SPA said.

The meeting also covered “what is being worked on between the two sides on the Palestinian issue to find a credible path towards a two-state solution”, as well as attempts to stop the war in Gaza and facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid there.

On Friday, American news website Axios reported that US and Iranian officials held indirect talks in Oman “on how to avoid escalating regional attacks”.

The official IRNA news agency said late on Saturday that “the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations confirmed indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States in Oman”.

It quoted him as saying that “these negotiations were not the first and will not be the last”, without giving the time and place of the talks.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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