Senior Biden advisers quietly visited Saudi Arabia last week to continue talks on a potential mega-deal that could include a peace agreement between the kingdom and Israel, two sources with direct knowledge of the issue told Axios.
Talks for the deal gained momentum last month following President Biden’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it also became clear there are still many issues to work out, including a Palestinian component to any such agreement, and that the process will take time.
The Biden administration is pushing to get a mega-deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel before the 2024 presidential campaign consumes Biden’s agenda.
Brett McGurk, the White House Middle East czar, and Amos Hochstein, Biden’s senior adviser for energy and infrastructure, visited Saudi Arabia for several hours last Thursday, the sources said.
McGurk and Hochstein met with MBS and other senior Saudi officials and discussed the different elements of the mega deal, according to the sources. One of the sources said the Biden advisers also discussed other regional and bilateral issues.
A White House National Security Council spokesperson told Axios that they have no “recent travel to read out.”
The spokesperson added that McGurk is “in the region regularly working on a host of matters aimed at reducing broader tensions in the Middle East region.”
The spokesperson also said that Hochstein regularly “travels to capitals around the world supporting the president’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure, including the recently inaugurated India Middle East Europe Economic Corridor.”
As part of the mega-deal talks, the White House is negotiating a potential security agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, possible U.S. support for a Saudi civilian nuclear program, and U.S. approval for sophisticated weapons sales to the kingdom.
Biden advisers are also negotiating separately with Saudi, Israeli and Palestinian officials a possible peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel that could include Israeli concessions in the occupied West Bank.