Saudi Arabia denies reports of secret meeting with Netanhayu

Riyadh, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- Saudi Arabia’s government on Monday denied Israeli media reports of a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

“No such meeting occurred,” Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said on his Twitter account. “The only officials present were American and Saudi”.

Earlier in the day, the Saudi government confirmed that Pompeo, who is in the midst of a tour of the Middle East which began in Israel, met bin Salman on Sunday in Neom, a planned cross-border city in the northwest of the Kingdom, on the shores of the Red Sea.

During that meeting, both parties “reviewed the friendly relations, the areas of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and the ways to enhance them” and “discussed the latest events in the Middle East and the actions carried out with respect to them”, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

SPA published a photo of the meeting featuring only bin Salman, Pompeo, bin Farhan and the US ambassador in Riyadh John Abizal.

In a statement, Pompeo said: “Pleasure to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Our security and economic partnership is strong and we’ll continue to harness it to advance efforts to counter malign Iranian influence in the Gulf”.

Netanyahu also attended the meeting, Israeli state-run Kan radio reported citing a senior official, in what would be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister in office to Saudi Arabia. The two countries are long-time enemies.

According to Israeli media, Netanyahu flew to Neom, in the northwest of Saudi Arabia and on the shores of the Red Sea, accompanied by Yosi Cohen, the head of the Israeli Foreign Intelligence Service (Mossad). The US Secretary of State also took part in the meeting.

The report comes in the wake of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalizing ties with Israel in September.

Netanyahu’s office neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

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