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Blinken: Improving the human rights record would strengthen reforms in Saudi Arabia

2023-06-08 22:00:56, Kosova & Bota CNA
Blinken: Improving the human rights record would strengthen reforms in Saudi
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Saudi Arabia's reform efforts will be more successful if the country's human rights record improves.

Mr. Blinken spoke alongside his counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan at the end of a visit to Saudi Arabia aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries.

"Progress in strengthening human rights consolidates our relationships. We will continue to publicly and privately underline the importance we attach to basic human rights and freedoms," he said.

Mr. Blinken said that in talks with Israeli officials he raised concerns about specific cases of American citizens being held in Saudi Arabia, but declined to provide more details.

Regarding Israel, Mr. Blinken said that the United States "fully supports Israel's integration into the Middle East, and since day one, we have cooperated to strengthen existing agreements and expand them with other countries." This includes Saudi Arabia," he said.

During the month of May, the White House said that Washington was making strong efforts to establish relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Blinken: Improving the human rights record would strengthen reforms in Saudi

Normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia has been a key objective of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Foreign Minister Cohen said last month that they were "ahead of a possible breakthrough."

However, the prospects for such a prospect have been dubious, given Riyadh's strained relationship with US President Joe Biden and the rise to power of Mr Netanyahu's far-right government.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom would prefer the United States to be one of the competitors bidding for its civilian nuclear program.

"We have differences in our attitudes, but we are working on finding mechanisms so that we can work together," he said./ VOA

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