US President Joe Biden will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia next month, where he plans to rebuild relations after calling the kingdom a pariah. The visit is meant to boost relations and create a distinguished strategic partnership between the two countries, according to the kingdom’s royal court.
Biden will meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed during his July 15-16 visit to discuss cooperation and ways to address challenges facing the region and the world. As part of Biden’s visit, he will attend a regional summit of leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
Biden’s trip is an invitation from King Salman. The talks he has with Saudi leaders are expected to revitalize the lukewarm relations between Washington and Riyadh under Biden. The long-awaited visit comes amid soaring global energy prices due to the Russian war in Ukraine. Concerns about Iran’s nuclear program are also growing.
A thaw in hostilities is perceived here as well as a change in tone for Biden, who earlier this month praised Saudi Arabia for its efforts in securing an extension of a UN-mediated ceasefire in war-torn Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s ceasefire decision was deemed courageous by him. The White House confirmed that Biden will go to Saudi Arabia. This is after the kingdom this month pushed OPEC to boost oil output by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August.
The White House press secretary said King Salman invited Biden to the kingdom during a meeting in the port city of Jeddah of the six GCC nations. These include the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. The President will also talk about bilateral, regional, and global issues with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia. This includes support for the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, which has led to the most peaceful period there since the war began seven years ago.
Biden will be traveling to the Middle East for the first time since taking office in January. In addition to Israel, he will also visit the Palestinian West Bank during his whirlwind tour. According to the emerging narrative, the US administration is already defending the trip of President Biden. With an eye toward addressing high gas prices and inflation at home while not muddying the administration’s promises to keep human rights at the center of its foreign policy, the president’s visit to the oil-rich kingdom is expected to be met with mixed reactions.