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19 Mar, 2022 04:58

Saudi Arabia calls upcoming Blinken visit fake news

The kingdom has dismissed reports that Washington’s top diplomat would soon visit Riyadh
Saudi Arabia calls upcoming Blinken visit fake news

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will not be making a trip to Saudi Arabia in the “near future,” the country’s foreign ministry said, formally denying a recent report citing a local official.

In a missive carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Saturday, the FM “denied reports circulated in the media and attributed to an official source in the ministry regarding a visit to be made by the U.S Secretary of State to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the near future,” adding that the ministry “did not issue any statement in this regard.”

The report in question originated at Reuters, which cited “an official from the Kingdom's foreign ministry” claiming Riyadh and Washington were planning a visit to “strengthen ongoing ‘positive discussions.” Earlier this week, Axios reported much the same after speaking to five US, Israeli and Palestinian sources.

Joe Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki did note that senior US officials visited the kingdom last month to “discuss a range of issues including the war in Yemen” as well as “energy security,” but the White House declined to confirm the administration’s upcoming schedule.

Saudi Arabia’s official denial follows a recent visit by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also went to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to discuss energy issues with local royals and attempted to persuade them to boost oil output. The PM reportedly failed to achieve that goal, however, despite efforts by Britain and a series of Western allies to reduce dependence on Russian energy.