US President to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and West Bank next month

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Washington: US President Joe Biden will make his first trip to the Middle East region next month, visiting Israel, West Bank and Saudi Arabia from July 13-16, the White House confirmed in a statement. According to a senior Biden official, the US President will begin his travel in Israel, where he will meet with Israeli leaders to discuss the country’s security, prosperity, and increasing integration into the greater region.

   

He will also visit the West Bank to consult with the Palestinian Authority and to reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution, with equal measures of security, freedom, and opportunity for the Palestinian people, the official further added.

   

The US President will then travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Saudi King Salman, to attend a Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan (known as the GCC+3).

   

Saudi Arabia is the current chair of the GCC and the venue for this gathering of nine leaders from across the region.

   

The trip to Israel is meant to “reinforce the United States’ iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity” and by attending the GCC Summit the Biden administration intends to “advance US security, economic, and diplomatic interests in the region,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

   

“The trip comes in the context of a significant agenda with Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the other countries of the Middle East. That agenda is focused on delivering results for the American people as well as ending wars and leading through diplomacy to bring stability to the Middle East region,” said a senior Biden administration official.

   

Looming over the trip will be Biden’s promise on the 2020 election campaign trail to make Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “pariah” over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But the surge in global oil prices has led the US President to court the kingdom in hopes it will increase production.

   

Earlier on Monday, Jean-Pierre defended that the president’s trip being labelled about more than just getting the Kingdom to produce more oil amid record-breaking gas prices, saying to “view engagement with Saudi Arabia on energy security, as asking for oil is simply wrong, and a misunderstanding of both the complexity of that issue and our multifaceted discussions with the Saudis.”

   

“That said Saudi Arabia is the chair as you know of OPEC plus, and its largest exporter. Of course, we discuss energy with Saudi government as we do with oil producers around the world, and we welcome its leadership in achieving a consensus amongst the group members last week,” she added.

   

While in Israel, Biden is expected to meet officials including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog. He is also expected to visit Bethlehem and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

first published:June 14, 2022, 6:14 p.m.



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