The White House on Tuesday confirmed details of US President Joe Biden’s first visit to the Middle East, saying he would also visit Saudi Arabia and meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The US media had earlier reported that the visit would take place between July 13 and 16.
In the meantime, Biden will first arrive in Israel and then leave for Saudi Arabia after visiting the occupied West Bank.
During his campaign, Biden sharply criticized the blatant human rights abuses by the Saudi royal family, focusing on the need for Washington to restructure relations with Riyadh in a new context.
In this context, questions are being raised about President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in the context of his promises.
One of the biggest and most important issues is the assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashkji in Turkey in 2018. US intelligence has concluded that his assassination may have been ordered by the real leader of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Biden administration has repeatedly offered to shift the focus of US-Saudi relations to his father, Shah Salman, instead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Tuesday that the “truth is that President Biden will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
Why is Biden visiting Saudi Arabia?
At present, Washington faces new challenges, both geographically and politically, and a change in policy at the diplomatic level is the result. When fuel prices skyrocketed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was finally oil-rich Saudi Arabia that helped boost oil production considerably.
The United States, meanwhile, faces threats from Iran’s nuclear program, as well as growing Chinese influence in the region, so Washington is now reluctant to comment on its opposition to Saudi Arabia’s activities or its policies. ۔
The White House press secretary said, “During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the US President will discuss bilateral, regional and global issues with his counterparts.
This includes support for a UN-brokered ceasefire in Yemen. The ceasefire is the first time such a peace has been established since the war began seven years ago. “
He added that they would also discuss ways to enhance regional security and economic cooperation. These include new and promising infrastructure and climate change initiatives, as well as key initiatives to address threats from Iran, advance human rights, and ensure global energy and food security.
What will Biden’s engagements be with Israel and the Occupied West Bank?
The first destination of Biden’s trip will be Israel. There he will meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is currently dealing with a fragile multi-party alliance. The visit comes after several Muslim-majority countries in the region normalized relations with Israel during the Trump administration.
Israel has also stressed the importance of good US relations with its Arab neighbors in order to strengthen security and hopes that Biden’s visit to Jeddah could help normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.
However, there are differences between the Biden administration and the Israeli government over how to deal with Iran. Israel also opposes Washington’s efforts to restore a nuclear deal with Iran.
The US president is also scheduled to visit the occupied West Bank, where he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Biden has reiterated his support for a two-state solution, and his administration intends to restore US relations with the Palestinians.
Relations between the United States and Palestine were “almost severed” under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.