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Despite his 'pariah' commitment, Biden will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - As he fights to combat record high U.S. fuel prices, US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Crown Princ...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - As he fights to combat record high U.S. fuel prices, US President Joe Biden will visit Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a trip to the Middle East in July, breaking with his campaign commitment to make the kingdom a "pariah."

Biden revised US policy on Saudi Arabia just weeks after taking office, taking a stronger stance on the kingdom's human rights record, including the assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018. The prince was implicated in the murder by US intelligence. His role has been rejected by the Saudi authorities.

Donald Trump, Biden's predecessor, had a tight relationship with the prince, the country's de facto ruler. However, as a presidential contender in 2019, Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia "pay the price, and make them, in reality, the pariah that they are" over Khashoggi's murder. Biden's position has not altered, according to the White House, as recently as this month.

The talks with the crown prince, which were part of Biden's maiden trip to the area, are regarded as contradicting his vow to put human rights at the centre of US foreign policy, according to rights organisations. Biden's travel will take him to Israel and the occupied West Bank from July 13 to July 16.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior US source said that if Biden "determines it is in his interest to interact with any given leader, and if such an engagement will generate benefits," he will do so.

The official cited the crown prince's role in securing an extension of a United Nations-brokered cease-fire between Yemen's warring parties as an example of the necessity to work with Saudi Arabia as a means of bringing peace and stability to the region.

Biden's travel to Saudi Arabia on July 15-16 comes after the OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations, led by Saudi Arabia, decided to increase oil output to offset Russian losses as a result of Western sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, as well as to combat rising oil prices and inflation.


Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which emphasised the importance of Gulf oil producers as Europe seeks to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, Washington's desire to develop ties with Gulf monarchs has become more essential.

According to three Western diplomats, the US is also attempting to further isolate Russia over the Ukraine conflict by pressing Gulf states to publicly condemn Moscow. Gulf states have so far attempted to maintain a "neutral" stance, but some Western officials see this as siding with Moscow.

Biden will attend a Gulf Cooperation Council conference in Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with regional leaders including Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan, according to the White House. According to a Gulf source familiar with the situation, Washington has proposed an agenda that encompasses regional security, food security, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and energy challenges.

Biden will highlight the United States' commitment to Israel on July 13-14, which includes billions of dollars in military aid. He'll hold a virtual summit with Israel's, India's, and the United Arab Emirates' presidents.

According to the US official, Biden will also fly to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials to reiterate his support to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

The visit will assist "integrate Israel with the Middle East," according to a statement from Israel's prime minister's office.

Saudi Arabia has expressed support for the so-called Abraham Accords, which established relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Israel two years ago. Riyadh, on the other hand, has refrained from formally recognising Israel.

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