US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan kicked off on Monday a tour of the Middle East; starting with Saudi Arabia where he is set to hold talks in Neom on Tuesday with senior officials.
Sullivan will be the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit Saudi Arabia since the president assumed office in January.
His talks will cover the Iranian nuclear file and efforts to make the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen accept peace initiatives and end the war.
National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said Sullivan was traveling to Riyadh on Monday and would also visit the United Arab Emirates.
He will be accompanied by Timothy Lenderking, the US envoy to Yemen, and National Security Council senior director for the Middle East Brett McGurk.
Former undersecretary at the Yemeni foreign ministry Mustafa al-Numan described Sullivan’s trip; as the “most significant” in the course of the Yemen war.
He also said the visit was a clear message that ending the conflict in Yemen was a priority to Biden as it is to Saudi Arabia.
The visit means that ending the war is a matter of US national security, he noted.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin planned to travel to Saudi Arabia earlier this month; while he was in the region but postponed due to what the administration said were scheduling issues.
Sullivan had met in July with Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman in Washington.
A statement at the time said they discussed the longstanding partnership; between the US and Saudi Arabia; as well as regional security and Washington’s commitment to helping the Kingdom defend its territories against attacks; launched by groups allied with Iran.