Joe Biden’s representatives are holding secret talks with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel aimed at normalizing relations between Saudi and Israel, according to a report.
Talks are currently focused on confirming ownership of two contested uninhabited islands in the Red Sea – a major stumbling block for any normalization. The parties are now looking at ways of resolving the issue of the Tiran and Sanafir islands, which sit in between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but control entry to the Gulf of Aqaba – a vital strategic channel for Israel, leading to the port city of Eilat.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to keep the islands demilitarized and commit to maintaining full freedom of navigation to all ships. Israeli officials said that could be considered, but only if there were alternative security arrangements that would guarantee the same protection. Israel is also seeking other concessions from Saudi Arabia.
Biden is hoping to get an agreement in place before his trip to the Middle East at the end of June