Saudi Arabia denies crown prince held ‘secret meeting’ with Israeli PM

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has denied that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the Gulf kingdom on Sunday to secretly meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“No such meeting occurred,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud tweeted.

Netanyahu has declined to comment on the Israeli reports that he was on board a private jet that travelled from Tel Aviv to the Red Sea city of Neom.

It would be the first known meeting between leaders of the historical foes.

US President Donald Trump has been pressing them to normalize relations after brokering deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in recent months.

Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed those moves, but indicated it would wait until there was a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Also on Monday, a delegation of senior Israeli officials travelled to Sudan on what would also be the first such visit to a formerly hostile country, an unnamed Israeli official confirmed. The countries are expected to map out areas of co-operation.

Citing unnamed Israeli sources, Israeli public broadcaster Kan and other media earlier reported that Netanyahu and the head of the Mossad intelligence service, Yossi Cohen, attended talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening with Crown Prince Mohammed and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A senior Saudi advisor told the Wall Street Journal that the leaders discussed several issues, including normalization of ties and Iran, but that no substantial agreements were reached.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) speaks to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) (22 November 2020)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks on Sunday

However, the Saudi foreign minister later denied that any Israeli officials had attended the meeting between Prince Mohammed and Mr Pompeo.

“The only officials present were American and Saudi,” Prince Faisal said.

Mr Pompeo meanwhile tweeted that he held constructive talks with Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Neom and posted a photograph showing them together.

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