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High-level U.S. visit to Saudi Arabia postponed after official cracks rib

Anadolu Agency AMERICAS
Published April 03,2024
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (REUTERS File Photo)

A high-level U.S. visit to Saudi Arabia amid Israel's ongoing war on the besieged Gaza Strip was postponed after a key Biden administration official suffered an injury, the White House said Wednesday.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cracked a rib "and that has affected his ability to travel," spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. The source of the injury is unclear, but Kirby said it "was a minor accident of his own."

"It was not caused by anybody. It was not the result of a nefarious act or anything like that," he added. He later said Sullivan's injury "is contributing to the postponement."

Sullivan and senior Biden administration officials were slated to visit the Kingdom to sit down with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss a long-elusive mega-deal that would see Riyadh establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel, according to multiple reports.

Saudi Arabia has never recognized Israel and Tel Aviv's ongoing war in Gaza has significantly diminished the prospects of such a deal being struck.

Biden said last week during a fundraiser with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton that he has been speaking with the Saudis and "they are prepared to fully recognize Israel" for the "first time."

"There has to be a post-Gaza plan here, and there has to be a train to a two-state solution. Doesn't have to occur today, but it has to be a progression. And I think we can do that. I think we can do that," he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is working on re-establishing an in-person meeting with a high-ranking Israeli delegation to discuss U.S. alternatives to Israel's vowed ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah where 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge.

Kirby said the U.S. is seeking to host the in-person meeting "some time in the next week" after a virtual convening Monday.

Plans to initially hold the sit-down in late March fell apart after Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu called off the visit in retaliation for the U.S. choosing not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.