Biden to visit Saudi Arabia on July 15-16

US president scheduled to attend summit with other Gulf leaders

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Published: Tue 14 Jun 2022, 4:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Jun 2022, 5:56 PM

President Joe Biden will make his first trip to the Middle East next month with visits to Israel, West Bank and Saudi Arabia, the White House announced Tuesday.

He will pay a call on Saudi leaders on July 15-16.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency said Biden would meet with both King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and described the visit as coming at King Salman’s invitation “to strengthen the historical bilateral relations and the distinguished strategic partnership between” the two countries.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told CNN that Biden “has a tough job dealing with gasoline prices and trying to find ways to find new sources and supplies to bring down inflation in the energy sector.”

John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said on CNN that the administration respects the differences of opinion about the president’s decision. He stressed “that Saudi Arabia is a key partner in the region on things like counterterrorism, on energy production."

The Saudi Embassy in Washington said Biden would meet with both King Salman and Prince Mohammed and described the visit as coming at the king’s invitation “to strengthen the historical bilateral relations and the distinguished strategic partnership between” the two countries.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia looks forward to welcoming President Biden and defining the next chapters of our partnership,” the Saudi Embassy said in a statement.

“At a time of global challenges related to the global economy, health, climate and international conflict, the partnership between our two countries is as critical as ever to the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability around the world.”

The White House announced the trip after Saudi Arabia this month helped nudge OPEC+ to ramp up oil production by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, and the kingdom agreed to extend a United Nations-mediated cease-fire with Yemen.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement announcing the Middle East trip said King Salman invited Biden to visit the kingdom during a gathering in the port city of Jeddah of the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

“While in Saudi Arabia, the President will also discuss a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues with his counterparts. These include support to the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, which has led to the most peaceful period there since war began seven years ago,” Jean-Pierre said.

“He will also discuss means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, and ensuring global energy and food security.”

Biden’s first stop during the Middle East will be in Israel. He will then meet with Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank. Biden will cap the whirlwind trip with the visit to Jeddah for the meeting of GCC leaders and talks with King Salman, the crown prince and other Saudi officials.

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