Jul 28, 2023, 11:30am EDT
securityMiddle East

The US and Saudi Arabia are advancing talks on Israel

Saudi Press Agency/Handout

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The News

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over a possible deal to normalize relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

We’ve gathered news and insights on what such an agreement could mean for U.S.-Saudi relations and what the Saudis want in return.

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  • A security pact between Washington and Riyadh to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel would be a “historic breakthrough” in Middle East peace and could spur a “domino effect” leading more Arab and Muslim-majority countries to normalize ties with Israel, writes Axios’ Barak Ravid. The Biden administration is keen to wrap up the diplomatic deal before the president begins his presidential election campaign.
  • In return for normalizing ties with Israel, the Saudis are looking to secure a “NATO-level” security treaty that would require the U.S. to go to Riyadh’s defense if it were attacked, Thomas Friedman writes for the New York Times. The country also wants to engage in a civilian nuclear program with Washington and have the ability to purchase “more advanced U.S. weapons” to defend itself from Iran. If this agreement goes through, it would be the first time Washington has made such a defense pact with a nondemocratic government since the Korean War.
  • Riyadh has been proposing visiting American officials to help build their civilian nuclear energy program — referred to as “nuclear Aramco” — which would boost Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to produce and likely export atomic energy, Semafor’s Jay Solomon reported. Aramco is a state oil company which the Saudis believe is a “model for how the civil nuclear cooperation with the U.S. could progress,” Solomon wrote. But Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that even under American oversight of such a project, there are “huge concerns over providing enrichment to the Saudis” and what it could mean for proliferation with Middle Eastern allies and adversaries.