Israel's Netanyahu tight-lipped on Saudi meeting

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to discuss details of a landmark meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia that reportedly took place over the weekend.

An Israeli cabinet minister said on Monday that such a meeting did take place and also marks the first publicly confirmed trip to the kingdom by an Israeli leader.

Two radio stations in Israel initially reported Netanyahu had secretly flown to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

When asked about the meeting itself on Monday, Netanyahu wasn't willing to give away any specifics.

"Are you serious? Friends, throughout my years I have never commented on such things and I don't intend to start doing so now. I can only tell you that really, throughout my years as prime minister, I didn't spare any effort to strengthen the state of Israel and to expand the circle of peace and thank God we manage to do it with our neighbors, with the Emirates, with Bahrain, with Sudan and I hope this circle will always expand."

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister added some further mystery by denying reports that a meeting even took place.

Pompeo has been leaning on Saudi Arabia to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and establish formal relations with Israel.

The reconciliation between Israel and the Gulf states is largely built on shared concerns about Iran - and potentially - whether U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will wind back Washington's regional policies.

News of the meeting came a day after Netanyahu said in a speech -- in an apparent message to Biden -- there should be no return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Trump.

Video Transcript

- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to discuss details of a landmark meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia that reportedly took place over the weekend. An Israeli cabinet minister said on Monday that such a meeting did take place, and also marks the first publicly confirmed trip to the Kingdom by Israeli leader.

Two radio stations in Israel initially reported Netanyahu had secretly flown to Saudi Arabia for talks with crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- When asked about the meeting itself on Monday, Netanyahu wasn't willing to give away specifics.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: Are you serious? Friends, throughout my years, I've never commented on such things, and I don't intend to start doing so now. I can only tell you that, really, throughout my years as prime minister, I didn't spare any effort to strengthen the state of Israel and to expand the circle of peace. And thank God we managed to do it with our neighbors, the Emirates, with Bahrain, with Sudan. And I hope the circle will always expand.

- Saudi Arabia's foreign minister added some further mystery by denying reports that a meeting even took place. Pompeo has been leaning on Saudi Arabia to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and establish formal relations with Israel. The reconciliation between Israel and the Gulf states is largely built on a shared concern about Iran and potentially with a US President-elect Joe Biden will wind back Washington's regional policies.