Foreign Minister says normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia, within grasp

Cohen says a successful agreement is only a matter of time and that Biden seeks a final deal that would lower energy costs and deliver a political win ahead of the 2024 elections

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday that normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia was within grasp. Speaking to Ynet, the minister said it was only a matter of time before an agreement is reached and said a deal was in the interest of the United States. "The Biden administration wants a political achievement ahead of the 2024 presidential elections," Cohen said.
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"The Americans are also interested in the economy and an agreement between the U.S. and the Saudis would lower energy costs. The Saudis are looking for defense against Iran," he said adding that Riyadh would like similar agreements in tourism and trade that the UAE has with Israel.
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שר החוץ אלי כהן מסיבת עיתונאים ב מולדובה
שר החוץ אלי כהן מסיבת עיתונאים ב מולדובה
Eli Cohen
(Photo: Dumitru Doru/ EPA)
"We are at a point in time, when the interests of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel merge, so the reports in the press, talking about an agreement within nine months to a year, sound right to me. This is the exact timeframe before America is consumed by the elections." Cohen said.
In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Cohen urged the Biden administration to consider the "South Korea model" for the Middle East, as a strategy to curb Iran's nuclear objectives in the area.
"The threat of a nuclear Iran has evolved beyond mere speculation," the minister wrote. He suggested that "should Iran equip itself with nuclear arms, it could trigger a regional arms surge, prompting nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to fortify their positions, unsettling regional stability."
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נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן בסעודיה
נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן בסעודיה
Joe Biden meets Saudi king Salman during a visit to the kingdom in 2022
(Photo: Reuters)
He underscored the potential of American defense commitments in stabilizing the Middle East, possibly nullifying the nuclear ambitions of nations like Saudi Arabia and advocated for "a collective front, coupled with global endeavors to restrict Iran's nuclear progress, as a strategy to cultivate Middle East peace and normalization."
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