In a complete 180-degree turn, Biden to visit Saudi Arabia and meet Crown Prince
Saudi arabia– President Joe Biden of the United States will visit Saudi Arabia in July as part of a larger trip to West Asia, and he will meet with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), who, according to US intelligence agencies, was the mastermind behind the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Mr. Biden promised during his presidential campaign to isolate Saudi Arabia over the assassination and make it “pay.”
On July 13-16, Mr. Biden will travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), where he will hold a virtual summit level meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed as part of the I2-U2 (India, Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates) country grouping.
In West Asia, the US is involved in partnerships with both regional and non-regional countries, as part of the Trump administration’s effort to strengthen Israel’s ties with other nations. According to a senior administration official who did not want to be identified, Mr. Biden’s visit to Israel was intended to not only “reaffirm” the US’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security, but also to deepen areas of cooperation across sectors and strengthen Israel’s integration with regional countries, such as in groups that include countries from outside West Asia.
“In this regard, the President will hold a virtual summit with the I2-U2 heads of state for discussions on the food security crisis, as well as other areas of hemispheric cooperation, where the UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs,” the official said on a conference call with reporters on Monday. In addition, there will be “side meetings and engagements” that will be revealed later.
The President’s journey to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will be centred on a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus three (GCC + 3), which will follow visits to Israel and the West Bank. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic cooperation comprising six West Asian countries. “So, certainly, the President will meet with the Crown Prince,” the person stated.
On Wednesday, an administration official defended the move, claiming that the engagement with Saudi Arabia had resulted in positive outcomes, such as a cease-fire in Yemen between a Saudi-led coalition and rebels, and an agreement by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ states to increase oil output by 50% ahead of schedule. Petrol prices have been rising in the United States and elsewhere, and while lawmakers have objected to Mr. Biden’s travel to the Kingdom, some have suggested he exploit the relationship to advance US interests.
During his visit to the area, notably in Jeddah, the President is expected to emphasise human rights, a key topic for Democrats. Many of these discussions take place “behind closed doors,” according to the official, who added, “And that is the greatest way to get outcomes.”
One of the effects of increasing US participation in West Asia, according to the official, is that 30 (of 35) countries voted against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, last week. Iran was urged to cooperate with UN inspectors looking into three undeclared sites in the poll.