Dep. Secretary Burns Visits Saudi Arabia and UAE
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is visiting Saudi Arabia and the UAE this week to meet with top officials. After his Tuesday meeting with Assistant Minister of the Interior Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Burns met with King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud on Wednesday. Burns “reaffirmed to Saudi leaders the United States’ firm and enduring commitment to Gulf security, including our commitment to countering the threat of Iran’s nuclear program and Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
The visit came two days after Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal warned in a New York Times editorial that a U.S. veto against Palestinian statehood in the U.N. could threaten the two allies’ relationship. A.P. reported that Burns’ mission was part of a larger effort to “defuse the situation” regarding the Palestinian bid. At the same time Burns was in the Gulf, special envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss a plan for negotiations “that can produce the two-state outcome that we seek.”
UPDATE: As of Thursday Burns had traveled to Iraq and met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that “in his consultations, the deputy affirmed the United States’ enduring commitment to the U.S.-Iraq partnership. He consulted with Iraqi leaders on a range of critical issues of mutual interest, including regional developments and bolstering our bilateral relationship as envisioned in the Strategic Framework Agreement.” Burns is now in the UAE to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.