AFP: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns over human rights in Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman yesterday, a US official said.
“They had an open, candid discussion that covered the full range of regional and bilateral issues,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “The secretary raised human rights both generally and with regards to specific issues.”
The meeting, which lasted about an hour and 40 minutes, touched on topics including Saudi Arabia’s support for US evacuations from Sudan, the need for political dialogue in Yemen and the potential for the normalisation of relations with Israel.
Blinken’s three-day visit comes after US-Saudi relations, centred for decades on energy and defence, were badly strained by the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.
Washington was also upset when Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, refused to help bring down skyrocketing energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Rights activists including Abdullah Al-Qahtani, a US citizen whose father,
Mohammad Al-Qahtani, was jailed for 10 years after founding a civil rights
group in Saudi Arabia and who remains unaccounted for, urged Blinken to raise
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