The meetings in Jeddah largely appear to go hand in hand with a plan to re-establish the United States’ ties with the kingdom after years of tension following Khashoggi’s death. But even more than policy announcements and formal discussions, it is the personal interactions between the US President – who has promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” – and the ruler of the world. The reality of this kingdom has attracted the most attention.
The president was fiercely criticized for punching the crown prince during their first face-to-face meeting between human rights groups and Democrats, as well as the Washington Post publisher. Images of Biden and the Crown Prince, also known as MBS, were quickly promoted by the Saudi government, including on Twitter and Saudi state television.
Critics say the fist fist authenticated bin Salman on the world stage just over a year after the US declassified an intelligence report concluding that the crown prince personally ordered Khashoggi’s death. Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan said that Biden’s fist bump was “embarrassing” because it “represents a level of intimacy and comfort that gives MBS the unwarranted redemption that it’s not.” he’s yearning.”
It is also a great gesture for a President who has argued on the campaign trail that he will make Saudi Arabia “like them” on the world stage and “make them bargain.”
But the President said he was “frank and direct in discussing” Khashoggi with the crown prince on Friday, and said “I have made my position clear.”
“For an American President to be silent on human rights issues is not consistent with who we are and who I am. I will always stand up for my values,” Biden told reporters after a meeting with the leader. Saudi religion.
Biden said the Crown Prince again denied involvement in the murder when he raised the matter with him.
“I pointed out that I thought it was him,” Biden said.
A gruesome death haunts Biden meetings
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist living in the US, was a fierce critic of the Saudi rulers and was killed at the consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Turkish officials said on At that time, this journalist was beaten, tortured and dismembered.
Ahead of their hour-long meeting, bin Salman on Friday ignored reporters’ questions about whether he had apologized to the Khashoggi family, and Biden did not answer whether he still considered Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a “lover” or not.
Biden attended an official meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, but – due to the king’s deteriorating health – the meeting was conducted by the Crown Prince.
White House officials accepted that they would be heavily criticized for the meeting, including members of Mr Biden’s own party, but decided to go ahead because they considered it the most practical option, admitting admitted that it is much easier to work with Saudi Arabia than without them. .
Before the trip, there was much speculation about whether Biden would shake hands with the Crown Prince or be photographed with him. That speculation only increased as the White House said the President was looking to reduce contact with others amid the spread of a potentially contagious sub-variant of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and would issue hand punches instead of handshakes.
A White House spokeswoman denied the instructions were given as an excuse for Biden to avoid shaking MBS’s hand when he arrived in Jeddah. Biden notably shook hands several times during his two days in Israel, which only added to the attentiveness of his first greeting to MBS.
For weeks, Biden and other White House officials have tried to downplay his meeting with the Crown Prince. The White House did not officially acknowledge Biden would meet MBS in person until announcing the President’s schedule the night before.
The decision to meet MBS, as well as the first bump, was criticized by Biden’s fellow Democrats.
Democrat Representative Adam Schiff of California had sharp words for Biden and tweeted, “If we need a visual reminder of the oil-rich autocrats continuing to hold back America’s foreign policy in the Middle East, we’ve got where we are today. A single blow is worth a thousand words.”
Representative Tom Malinowski of New Jersey said in an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom” that although he believes Biden has been “honest, unlike his predecessor” about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the case. murdered Khashoggi, “I’m still not entirely comfortable with the image of this meeting.”
White House announces policy deals with Saudi Arabia
While no clear announcement of an increase in oil production is expected soon after Biden leaves Jeddah, officials anticipate an announcement could be made in the coming weeks, alongside progress. ceasefire in Yemen. Biden’s working visit to MBS was seen as an opportunity to re-establish the relationship, and officials said, depending on how the meeting goes, Biden could begin direct communication with MBS during meetings. call, which he has refused to do so far.
Overnight, Saudi Arabia confirmed a tentative announcement that its airspace would be opened to Israeli airlines. Biden hailed the “historic decision” after “months of diplomatic stability”, noting that he would become the first US President to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia.
“We welcome the 50% increase in production levels compared to expected for July and August. These and the next steps we anticipate in the coming weeks have and will help stabilize the market. significant school,” the official said.
The two countries will also sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on 5G and 6G technologies, part of the administration’s efforts to expand infrastructure globally. It will “connect US and Saudi technology companies in the innovation and deployment of 5G using open, virtualized, and cloud-based radio access networks and the evolution of 6G.” through similar technologies.”
The set of announcements also celebrates the maintenance and extension of the UN-brokered ceasefire in the war in Yemen.
“President Biden welcomes Saudi Arabia’s strong commitment to the ceasefire, particularly taking the lead, in tandem with the government of Yemen, in helping to resume direct commercial flights from Sana.” a to Amman and Cairo for the first time in seven years and support the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, which will help improve basic services and stabilize the economy to ease the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the official said. this office said.
The United States and Saudi Arabia also signed a memorandum of understanding between the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Saudi Ministry of Health on public health. The two countries will cooperate on “health information systems, capacity building for health service delivery, disease surveillance, emerging infectious diseases, and addressing women’s health-related concerns.” women and special-needs groups, and public policies geared towards disease prevention and health promotion,” the official said.
According to the official, cooperation on clean energy will also be enhanced, with investments by Saudi Arabia to combat climate change and an agreement on cybersecurity where the two countries will share information. on threats and cooperation on best practices, as well as cooperation on space exploration, according to the official.
Mr. Biden also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to strengthen ties with Iraq, especially in the areas of helping to strengthen the Iraqi power grid by linking the grid with Saudi Arabia and other member states. Gulf Cooperation Agreement, the official said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Friday.