JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Was it worth it?
That is the question President Joe Biden is trying to answer yes while wrapping a four day trip to the middle east on Saturday with meetings in Saudi Arabia, the country he previously vowed to avoid because of its human rights abuses.
Biden is expected to touch on economics, security and human rights.
American voters, on the other hand, are probably more interested in whether he can convince the oil-rich kingdom to help b.lower the price of gayes
While no specific commitments have been announced, Biden noted that the OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations recently increased production and said he expects to see “more steps in the coming weeks.”
New focus: Biden was forced to shift his focus to Saudi Arabia due to the geopolitical realities of rising gas prices in the short term, long-term energy security challenges, the need to deter Iranian aggression in the region, and fears to leave a void in the Middle East that China or Russia could fill.
Airway opening: In what the White House sees as a vindication of its commitment to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom announced it will open its airspace to “all airlines,” marking the end of its long-standing ban on Israeli flights overflying its territory. , a key step towards standardization. between the two nations.
Peace message: Biden flew from Israel to Saudi Arabia, where he brought with him a “message of peace” from Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to all Arab nations in the region.
Khashoggi assassination: Biden said he brought up the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based journalist who wrote for The Washington Post, in his Friday meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. US intelligence believes the crown prince likely approved of Khashoggi’s killing four years ago. Biden said the prince claimed that he was not personally responsible. “I indicated that I thought he was,” Biden said.
Little by little towards normalization: Biden announced that peacekeepers will depart from the Red Sea island of Tiran at the end of the year, in the latest sign that Saudi Arabia and Israel are inching toward normalization. The island, controlled by Egypt before being ceded to Saudi Arabia in 2017, has hosted US troops as part of the Multinational Force and Observers since 1981 after Israel and Egypt reached a peace agreement.
What is going to happen
Biden will attend a summit of Middle Eastern leaders, those representing the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, a group known as GCC+3.
Biden plans to discuss America’s historic role in the region and his approach going forward.
He will also meet personally with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The best takeaways
Biden raised eyebrows as he bumped fists with Crown Prince Mohammed as he arrived at Al Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah for sensitive talks on energy, human rights and security in the Middle East.
Later, in a meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud and other Saudi leaders, reporters asked bin Salman if he apologizes to the Khashoggi family and asked Biden if he still considers Saudi Arabia a “pariah.” The president did not respond. The crown prince seemed to smile. The reporters were then escorted out.
Biden said the purpose of his trip was not to meet the crown prince but to position the United States in the region for the future. “We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill,” he said.
what they are saying
“The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake, it was disgraceful,” Fred Ryan, editor of The Washington Post, said in a statement. “He projected a level of intimacy and comfort that provides MBS with the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”
“If ever we needed a visual reminder of the ongoing control oil-rich autocrats have over US foreign policy in the Middle East, we have it today,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, tweeted. “A fist bump is worth a thousand words.”
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Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden will attend the leaders’ summit on the last day of his trip to the Middle East