Biden to meet with Saudi crown prince despite ‘pariah’ pledge -Breaking
© Reuters. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Philadelphia International Airport on June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Jarrett Renshaw & Nandita Bolse
WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. President Joe Biden will visit the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a July trip to the Middle East. This is a departure from his campaign promise of making the Kingdom a “pariah”, as he struggles with record-high U.S. gas prices.
Biden changed U.S. policies on Saudi Arabia within weeks of taking office. He took a more aggressive stance regarding the country’s human rights records, including the murder and dismemberment in Turkey of Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post journalist. The murder was attributed to the U.S. intelligence. Saudi Arabia has refuted any claim of involvement.
Donald Trump was the predecessor to Biden and had an intimate relationship with the Saudi prince. Biden was a candidate for president in 2019. However, Biden promised to “pay the price” and render Saudi Arabia the “pariah they are” after the death of Khashoggi. Even though the White House said this last month that Biden still believes as strongly as ever,
Rights advocates see the talks with the crown prince as a violation of Biden’s promise to place human rights at center of U.S. international policy. They are part of Biden’s initial trip to the region. Biden will make stops in Israel, the Occupied West Bank and Israel during his trip between July 13-16.
Unnamed senior U.S. officials said that Biden can decide to “engage with any leader” if it is in his best interest and the engagement could deliver results.
Official pointed out the role of the crown prince in the securing of an U.N.-brokered ceasefire between Yemeni warring parties, as an example of how he felt it was necessary to work with Saudi Arabia to bring about peace and security.
Biden will visit the kingdom between 15-16 July after the OPEC+ group, which includes Saudi Arabia as its leader, has agreed to raise oil production to offset Russian losses – following Western sanctions placed on Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine – in addition to fighting rising oil prices.
Washington is now more determined to build ties to the Gulf monarchies after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2014. This emphasized how important Gulf oil producers are to Europe’s energy independence.
Three Western diplomats stated that the United States also wants to isolate Russia in light of the Ukraine conflict. They are asking Gulf countries to condemn Moscow and call for its immediate withdrawal. Although the Gulf states say they are neutral and have tried to preserve that position so far, many Western diplomats consider this support for Moscow.
The White House announced that Biden would meet regional leaders such as Jordan, Egypt, and Jordan at a summit in the Gulf Cooperation Council. A Gulf source said that Washington had proposed an agenda, which includes food security, regional security, and the Israeli-Palestinian war. It also addresses energy issues.
Biden will be in Israel on July 13-14 to highlight America’s commitment to Israel. This includes billions of US dollars in military aid. A virtual summit will be held with leaders of Israel and India as well as the United Arab Emirates.
According to the U.S. official, Biden will travel to West Bank with Mahmoud Abdul Abbas (Palestinian President) and other leaders in an effort to renew his commitment to a Two-State Solution between Israel and Palestinians.
According to an Israeli Prime Minister’s Office statement, the visit would help “integrate Israel in the Middle East”.
Saudi Arabia supports the Abraham Accords, under which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates established relations with Israel in 2002. Riyadh is yet to recognize Israel’s neighbor.