US, Saudi Arabia close to finalizing draft security treaty

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is close to finalizing a treaty with Saudi Arabia that would commit the US to help defend the Gulf nation as part of a deal aimed at encouraging diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing U.S. and Saudi officials.

The possible deal, widely telegraphed by US and other officials for weeks, is part of a wider package that would include a U.S.-Saudi civil nuclear pact, steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state and an end to the war in Gaza, where months of ceasefire efforts have failed to bring peace.

Approval of the treaty, which the WSJ said would be known as the Strategic Alliance Agreement, would require a two-thirds majority vote in the US Senate, a threshold that would be difficult to achieve unless the treaty were tied to Israeli-Saudi normalization.

The draft treaty is modeled loosely on Washington’s mutual security pact with Japan, the newspaper cited U.S. and Saudi officials as saying.

In exchange for the US commitment to help defend Saudi Arabia if it were attacked, the draft treaty would grant Washington access to Saudi territory and airspace to protect US interests and regional partners, the newspaper reported.

It is also intended to bind Riyadh closer to Washington by prohibiting China from building bases in the kingdom or pursuing security cooperation with Riyadh, the WSJ quoted officials as saying.

The White House, the US State Department and the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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