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US delegation in Israel after Saudi visit, discussing regional projects with Netanyahu

Advancing the I2U2 initiative, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet in Jerusalem with envoys of the Biden administration, following their trip to Saudi Arabia where they held extensive talks on infrastructure projects that involve India, Gulf countries and Israel.
Brett McGurk, US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, listens to Amos Hochstein, the US Senior Advisor for Energy Security, as Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi ambassador to the US, looks on during an investment agreement signing ceremony between the US and Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on July 16, 2022. (Photo by Amer HILABI / AFP) (Photo by AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images)

In a bid to advance normalization with Saudi Arabia, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to meet on Monday in Jerusalem with US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk and US special envoy on energy Amos Hochstein, who had both accompanied US national security adviser Jake Sullivan on his visit to Riyadh this weekend.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met on Monday in Jerusalem with Hochstein to discuss the advancement of diplomatic moves in the region. A statement issued by Israel’s Foreign Ministry Monday evening said that after meeting with Hochstein, Cohen spoke on the phone with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and updated him on Israel’s diplomatic activities in recent weeks to advance regional stability. The statement said that Cohen and Blinken discussed advancing more normalization moves in the framework of expanding and deepening the Abraham Accords (normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world) and in the framework of the Negev forum.

Sullivan met on Sunday with Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Emirati national security adviser Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval. A readout issued by the White House said the purpose of the quadruplet meeting was to "advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world."

According to an Al-Monitor report published before the meeting, participants were slated to discuss a possible major joint infrastructure project that would connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways. This network of railways would connect also to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region. Israel wants to be part of this interconnection project. 

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