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Biden Planning 1st Middle East Visit, May Meet Gulf, Arab Leaders

Biden Planning 1st Middle East Visit, May Meet Gulf, Arab Leaders

Saturday, 4 June, 2022 - 05:00
President Joe Biden speaks about the May jobs report, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP)

US President Joe Biden stressed on Thursday that he is engaged in working towards achieving peace and stability in the Middle East.

He revealed that his plans for his first visit to the Middle East have not been completed yet, but he expects to meet with the leaders of Israel and some Arab countries. He said Saudi Arabia may be part of his regional tour.

"There is a possibility that I would be going to meet with both the Israelis and some Arab countries at the time including I expect would be Saudi Arabia would be included in that if I did go. But I have no direct plans at the moment," he said.

"As president of the United States my job is to bring peace if I can and that’s what I’m going to try to do," Biden added.

"What I want to do is see to it that we diminish the likelihood that there’s a continuation of this, some of the senseless wars between Israel and the Arab nations, and that’s what I’m focused on," he replied when asked if he would meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, in the Kingdom.

Prospects for a Biden visit improved on Thursday when OPEC + agreed to increase oil output by 200,000 barrels in July and August and a ceasefire in the Yemen war was extended.

The visit would be aimed at bolstering relations with Saudi Arabia at a time when Biden is trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices in the United States.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday credited Saudi Arabia for its role "in achieving consensus” within the oil producers’ bloc.

In addition to the White House praising Saudi Arabia for its role securing an OPEC+ pledge, the president this week lauded the Saudis for demonstrating "courageous leadership” by agreeing to a 60-day ceasefire extension in its seven-year-old war with Yemen. The extension was also announced Thursday.

Some sources have said that American officials were working behind the scenes with their Saudi counterparts to discuss the joint Saudi-American interests on security and oil prices.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and the US have been an example of ties between allies for eight decades. They have never been shaken by even the strongest of setbacks in credit to the leaderships of both countries and their keenness on bolstering the ties and avoiding any problems.

Crown Prince Mohammed's visits to the US in 2016 and 2018 have played a major role in consolidating the strategic relations between Riyadh and Washington on military, defense, economic and investment levels.

Saudi Arabia believes that the strategic partnership it shares with the US and their joint interests are the foundations of their relations. These ties will remain deep-rooted between their countries and peoples.

Biden's visit to the region will include Israel at the invitation of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The visit will likely take place in June and Washington will focus on expressing support to the two-state solution and the Palestinian Authority.

His Middle East trip may see him meet the leaders of Egypt. Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Sources in Tel Aviv said Biden will kick off his trip on June 23. He will first visit Israel and then head to the Palestinian Territories.

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