Biden Travels to Saudi Arabia Amid Concern Over Oil Market and Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

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According to a senior Biden administration official, Biden will meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also referred to as MbS, and other government representatives.

JERUSALEM/JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 15 (Trouve 360 News) – Friday marks the start of President Joe Biden’s journey to Saudi Arabia, where he will address energy supplies, human rights, and security cooperation. Previously, he had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the international arena.

Body language and speech will be extensively scrutinized throughout the visit. Despite the crown prince’s denials, U.S. intelligence assessed that MbS gave his direct approval to the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Biden will likely shake hands with the prince, who is the de facto ruler of the country, although White House aides have reluctant to confirm this. A meeting taking place in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Saturday will see Biden interact with a larger group of Arab leaders.

The president will welcome them as normal when he meets with roughly a dozen leaders, the administration official said.

Officials advised Biden to avoid personal contact, such as shaking hands, before his travel to the Middle East as a precaution against COVID-19. But in the end, the president shook hands with Israeli officials.

On Thursday, Biden said that his opinion on the murder of Khashoggi was “absolutely” clear. Less than two years ago, after the murder of the journalist and during his presidential campaign, Biden made his “pariah” remark.

Although Biden promised to bring up human rights issues with Saudi Arabian authorities, he did not specify if he would bring up the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, repeated the kingdom’s “abhorrence” of the death in an article published in the American magazine Politico. She called it a horrible tragedy and said it cannot define U.S.-Saudi relations.

She said that the “outdated and reductionist” oil-for-security model should not be used to frame the relationship.

“The world has changed, and without a strong U.S.-Saudi partnership, it would be impossible to address the grave threats confronting us all, including food, energy, and climate change.”

The president and his advisors decided against isolating the kingdom, the top oil exporter in the world and a regional powerhouse that has been bolstering its ties with Russia and China, for reasons related to energy and security, particularly at a time when Gulf nations were concerned about what they perceived to be an American withdrawal from the region.

The United States wants Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies to increase oil production to assist lower the high price of gasoline and lower the greatest inflation in the country in four decades.

According to Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of S&P Global and an authority on international energy markets, “The Saudis definitely intend to increase capacity and with oil prices so high they have the wherewithal to do that, particularly as they see production constraints elsewhere in a market that is still growing.”

During his visit, Biden will push for more Middle Eastern integration and promote peace, according to the senior official. The Yemeni conflict’s cease-fire would be strengthened, energy markets would be “balanced,” and 5G and 6G technical collaboration would be discussed.

Biden referred to Saudi Arabia’s announcement to open its airspace to all air carriers before the visit as a historic and significant step towards creating a more cohesive and stable Middle East. This move will allow for more overflights to and from Israel.

It has now become a reality “because two months of sustained engagement between my administration and Saudi Arabia,” Biden said in a statement. “I will exert every effort to advance this ground-breaking process via direct diplomacy and leader-to-leader contact.”

The White House describes Biden’s decision as a “small signal” of improving relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Biden will be the first American president to travel straight from Israel to Jeddah. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were given a silent okay by Riyadh two years ago to normalize ties with Israel.

The agreements known as the Abraham Accords, which were mediated by the United Governments, created a new axis in the area, where Gulf states share Israel’s worries about Iran’s proxy network and nuclear and missile programs.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim country, and Iran, a Shi’ite Muslim country, have long competed for dominance in the area. Last year, however, direct negotiations were started in an attempt to defuse tensions.

The Saudi ambassador said that in order to combat the “image of chaos espoused by Iran,” U.S.-Saudi efforts to maintain peace and security should concentrate on fostering collaboration and “reinforcing a rules-based system.”

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a joint declaration to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, which the Islamic Republic denies wanting, during his visit to Israel on the first leg of his Middle East tour.

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