Blinken in Saudi Arabia to mend Washington's frayed ties with Riyadh
Blinken's visit comes just as Iran reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia following a seven-year hiatus.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday arrived in Saudi Arabia on a trip to strengthen strained ties with the kingdom.
Blinken's three-day visit will also focus on efforts to end the war in Sudan and Yemen, the alleged battle against the so-called Islamic State (IS), as well the normalization process with the Israeli occupation, AFP reported.
The top US diplomat's visit comes a couple of months after a Chinese-brokered agreement that restored diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the restoration of relations between Riyadh and Damascus, 12 years after the war on Syria erupted.
"There is just a tremendous amount of work that we're trying to do," US State Department senior official dealing with Arabian Peninsula affairs, Daniel Benaim, indicated before Blinken's trip.
"We're focused on an affirmative agenda here and the great deal of work our countries can do together."
Blinken landed in Jeddah on Tuesday evening and is expected to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, AFP cited a US official as saying, before heading to Riyadh on Wednesday for a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.
US-Saudi relations, centered for decades on energy and defense, were strained by the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.
Washington was also upset when Riyadh, the world's biggest oil exporter, refused to help bring down skyrocketing energy prices after the start of the Ukraine war in February last year.
In recent weeks, US and Saudi diplomats have cooperated on brokering a lasting ceasefire in Sudan's eight-week-old war, so far unsuccessfully.
The United States also hopes that Saudi Arabia will eventually agree to normalize relations with the Israeli occupation, AFP indicated.
On the eve of his Saudi trip, Blinken said that "the United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia."
The US Secretary of State indicated that Washington has "no illusions" that this can be done quickly or easily but stressed that "we remain committed to working toward that outcome."