Biden arrives in Saudi Arabia on historic visit, meets King Salman

US President to also participate in meetings with other senior Saudi officials



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By Web Desk

Published: Fri 15 Jul 2022, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Fri 15 Jul 2022, 10:16 PM

President Joe Biden touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday, working to improve ties with the nation as well as address other challenges, including rising petrol prices and regional issues.

It is Biden's first visit to Saudi Arabia since taking office, and also his first meeting with the kingdom's crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Biden was met King Salman at the Royal Palace where he shook hands with the monarch. After that, the US President will participate in a larger meeting that would include the Crown Prince and other senior Saudi officials, as well as the president’s top advisers.

The major question, important far beyond the day, is whether the 79-year-old U.S. president and the 36-year-old Saudi royal can reaffirm the longstanding strategic partnership between their two countries.

The future of the region, including the possibility of closer ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as the ebb and flow of the world’s oil supply hang in the balance.

Asked if Biden would shake hands with MBS, a senior administration official demurred and noted the White House is “focused on the meetings, not the greetings.”

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Biden arrived in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on the third day of a four-day swing through the Middle East. He spent the first two days meeting with Israeli officials and travelled to the West Bank on Friday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and others before flying to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis took a step toward normalisation of relations with Israel before Biden's visit, announcing early Friday that it was opening its airspace to “all air carriers,” signalling the end of its strict limits on Israeli flights flying over its territory.

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Biden hailed the decision as “an important step towards building a more integrated and stable Middle East region,” adding that the decision "can help build momentum toward Israel’s further integration into the region, including with Saudi Arabia.”

Biden also will take part in a Saturday gathering of leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — before returning to Washington. The leaders of other Mideast nations line Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are also to attend.


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