Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Saudi Arabia’s eastern city of Dhahran to discuss a “semi-final” version of strategic agreements between the two countries, official Saudi media reported on Sunday.

The agreements are considered a major part of Washington’s efforts to bring Riyadh around to recognizing the state of Israel for the first time–efforts complicated by the ongoing war in Gaza.

The two sides also discussed “what is being worked on between the two sides on the Palestinian issue to find a credible path towards a two-state solution.”

The talks also touched on “the situation in Gaza and the necessity of stopping the war there, and facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid.”

Sullivan is scheduled to visit Israel later on Sunday for talks about the war, according to the White House.

For some time, the Biden administration has been seeking to reach an agreement under which Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel in exchange for a stronger security relationship with Washington.

The Saudis are also bargaining hard for help developing a civilian nuclear program.

Last September, before Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza, Prince Mohammed said in an interview with the US network Fox News that “every day we get closer” to a deal to normalize ties.

But those efforts have been severely damaged by the more than seven months of fighting in Gaza and the rising civilian toll there.

Since the outbreak of the war, Saudi officials have said that relations with Israel are impossible without steps toward recognizing a Palestinian state, something that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long opposed.

It is unclear whether Riyadh and Washington will move forward with their agreements, as Saudi Arabia and Israel have not reached a normalization agreement, according to analysts.

But high-level talks about what Saudi Arabia wants from the United States have continued.

During Blinken’s last visit to Riyadh in April, he and his Saudi counterpart said that a final agreement on the US-Saudi component of the deal was close.

With AFP